13 years after hospital closure decision, healthcare wait goes on

June 26 2018

The future of health services at the site of Frenchay Hospital is now in the hands of South Gloucestershire Council.

The authority will become lead commissioner at the site of the former acute hospital, which means it will take charge of plans to provide joint health and social care facilities there.

Up to 55 rehabilitation beds, for patients who are well enough to leave Southmead or another acute hospital, are now planned at Frenchay, along with care home beds and an extra care housing scheme with up to 80 homes.

But the announcement does not refer to the Frenchay project as a community hospital: a disappointment for campaigners who have fought for years to see one built.

In a statement announcing it was taking the lead of the Frenchay scheme and another at Thornbury, South Gloucestershire Council said the move would enable it to deliver the facilities “as quickly as possible and bring this work to a faster conclusion”.

The planned Frenchay facilities would include:

• 45 to 55 ‘step-down’ rehabilitation beds, for people who no longer need acute hospital care but need further medical care before returning home.

• A share of at least 72 care home beds - the rest would be in Thornbury - including social care beds for dementia nursing.

• An extra care housing scheme of between 50 and 80 homes.

• Social care facilities for private customers.

It is more than four years since acute services closed at Frenchay Hospital and part of the site is now being redeveloped for housing. Campaigners who fought the closure have been pushing for a community hospital since the decision to move acute services was made in 2005.

Save Frenchay Community Hospital Group spokeswoman Barbara Harris said plans for a community hospital with 68 beds at Frenchay were formally approved but scrapped after the 2010 General Election.

Mrs Harris said: “The Save Frenchay Community Hospital Group welcomes the decision of South Gloucestershire Council to be the lead commissioner for the healthcare facilities on the Frenchay site.The public is aware that we have been waiting 13 years for a decision on implementation on the Frenchay site and the provision is long overdue.At present, there is little firm detail on the plans for the Frenchay facility.  What is absolutely clear is that it will not be the community hospital we were expecting.”

Mrs Harris said the group was concerned over how NHS beds would be differentiated from nursing home beds in the new facility and how much land will be reserved both for the building and car parking.

The council will work with North Bristol NHS Trust, which owns the site, and the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is in charge of buying healthcare provision in the area. The three organisations have set up a joint team to work on the plans.

Council leader Toby Savage said: 0 “This is a welcome step in bringing this sorry and long-running saga to an end and working together across the NHS and local government to get in place the 21st century health and social care services and facilities that our residents deserve.”