Tyne & Wear

Rothbury Hospital future 'to be decided in summer'

Campaigners with placards calling for Rothbury's in-patient beds to be reopened
Image caption Campaigners have remained steadfast in their calls to reopen the beds

A decision on the future of a North East community hospital will not be made until later this year, health chiefs have said.

Plans to close 12 in-patient beds at Rothbury Hospital, in Northumberland, were announced in 2017 but referred to an independent panel which said there were flaws in the process.

Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is conducting a review.

Campaigners said they want a "fully functioning hospital".

At a meeting of Northumberland County Council's health and wellbeing committee at County Hall in Morpeth, the area's clinical commissioning group said it would continue to review available data and consider a number of options.

These include the reopening of the inpatient beds, the CCG's Vanessa Bainbridge said.

"While a new formal consultation will not be launched, an engagement programme will be conducted over the coming months," she added.

"We hope to be in a position to inform the review group of our decision by late summer 2019.

"During this time, the inpatient ward will remain closed."

Image caption The meeting was told the CCG would undertake "meaningful community engagement"

The organisation said it would work with groups such as the Save Rothbury Community Hospital campaign group and Healthwatch Northumberland over the coming months.

Rothbury's ward councillor Steven Bridgett said: "I get residents coming to me on a regular basis who are either being referred to care homes or to alternative hospitals when actually they would be better suited in Rothbury."

The beds were initially closed by the CCG on a temporary basis in September 2016 before it voted to close them permanently a year later.

In October 2017 Northumberland County Council referred that decision to the Department of Health and the following month an independent panel said there were flaws in the process and "further action locally was needed".

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