TOWN councillors have voiced their thoughts on the status of a hospital in the Moorlands after medical authorities voted on the future of health and social community-based services in the area last Tuesday evening (January 20). The Times and Echo reported last week that members of the North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups’ Governing Bodies (CCGs) voted in favour of an Integrated Care Hub 'option' that stated Cheadle Hospital would be “repurposed” with a new build set to be constructed at Leek Hospital. After the meeting, Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer for North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs, told the Times and Echo: “Cheadle sits within the Local Plan, has a population of 13,000 and has three GP practices within the Cheadle borough.
“Conversations we are having with the district council, county council, and GP practices are looking at providing an integrated health, care and leisure offer in Cheadle.
“Now decisions have been made we can ramp up these discussions.”
In a statement released by the CCGs following the meeting, a spokesman added: “No decision has yet been taken on the future of Cheadle Hospital, but the CCGs are working with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to look at alternative options for the town.
“This will form part of the development of business cases for the development of the new facilities.”
Cheadle town councillors, who are set to meet with Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council members next month to discuss the matter, have reacted to the news and voiced their opinions to the Times & Echo.
Cheadle Mayor and town council member Ian Plant, who attended the CCGs’ meeting last week, said of the CCG decision: “I’m not surprised.
“It’s just how we move forward now. We’ll try to meet to talk to the NHS, CCGs, the county, district and town councillors and progress from there.
“Whether that’s in regards to something inside there or a building somewhere of some description, we’ll have to see.
“We’ve got to move forward and not let it go stale and get it going while the iron’s still hot.
“We know the community beds are gone and are never going to back in Cheadle.
“If everyone has got to go Stoke or Leek – I don’t know what facilities they’ll have but how things are at the moment, no-one can get there.
“We will fight for services in Cheadle.”
In reference to Mr Warnes’ proposal of a “health, care and leisure care offer” Mr Plant said: “If we can do that then fair enough, it’s the not-knowing more than anything really.
“Hopefully we can move forward, we’ve got to make sure something positive comes out of it for the people of Cheadle.”
Cheadle town councillor Gary Bentley, who was also present at the meeting last Tuesday, said: “You could dust it down and open it up as a care hub tomorrow and start.
“They were saying the money for the Leek build is coming from a different budget but that isn’t right is it?
“It’s like someone asking me for a car, I give them a car, and then a few weeks later I see them in the pub and they say they’re off on a two-and-a-half grand holiday next week, I ask why they didn’t put that money towards a car and then they say ‘well it’s come from a different budget’.”
“All I can say is I just hope whoever is overseeing it has got a plan for Cheadle that everyone is happy with and not just housing developments.
“If we have to lose the hospital, then I would support elderly accommodation if they were two-bedroom pensioners bungalows in the centre of Cheadle that carers could access and work in.
“When one door shuts sometimes another door opens and we’ve got to try that other door if the other one does shut.”
Fellow town councillor Ron Locker admitted he too was not surprised by the news regarding Cheadle Hospital and went on to state: “Real negotiations have now got to start in regards to the future of the hospital.
“Be rest assured that Cheadle town councillors will fight very hard for this.
“We’ve all got ideas, it’s a case of seeing whether the powers that be agree with us, then move it forward.
“It’s gone on long enough. It’s a very modern, important building that is not being utilised for what it should be, it’s being wasted.
“We will work hard to find a solution with the county and district councils as well.
“Care is an important discussion nationally at the moment. Elderly facilities and other facilities we’ve got are not adequate.
“I’m looking forward to some real common sense talking.”
Cheadle town councillor Richard Alcock said he was “disgusted” with the situation.
“I’m absolutely gutted,” he said.
“We are losing every facility, I’m disgusted. The town is getting bigger and bigger but we have got less facilities.
“We used to have everything we needed and now we have got ten times bigger and have got nothing.”
Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, councillor Sybil Ralphs, said: “I broadly welcome the decision made by the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ Governing Bodies regarding the future provision of local health services in the Moorlands.
“The need for the retention of care in Leek was a key theme during consultation so it is good to see that this has been listened to and I’m pleased that a new integrated care hub – a multi-million pound complex and one of four in Northern Staffordshire – will be built on the site of the existing hospital. “It does secure health provision in Leek and the Moorlands going forward.
“However, I would like to be reassured that the present services, including the minor injuries unit, will remain in the present hospital building until the new building is completed so that there is no disruption to services provision.
“Whilst the future for Cheadle Hospital remains uncertain I note the CCG’s intention to work with the council to consider the options and I look forward to further details emerging as the business cases for both sites are prepared.”
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