Bicester's new hospital should be built with more beds now, a councillor says (From The Oxford Times)
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Bicester's new hospital should be built with more beds now, a councillor says
A HOSPITAL campaigner says extra beds should be added to Bicester’s new hospital now to cope with planned growth in the town.
Town, district and county councillor Les Sibley says 12 beds in the under-construction Bicester Community Hospital is not enough.
The hospital design, by developer Kajima, includes scope to expand the hospital by up to six beds at a future date.
But Mr Sibley, also chairman of campaign group Save Our Community Hospital, SOCH, says it is more cost-effective to expand the hospital while it’s being built.
Mr Sibley asked a full Cherwell District Council meeting last week to use £2m it had previously set aside for the hospital to pay for the extra building work.
But leader Barry Wood said the money was no longer available as the hospital project was under way and not in the crisis it was when the cash was set aside.
He said: “Our view was, as the community hospital was falling down at the time, we said if there was any problem with capital come to us and we will build the shell for you and rent it back.
“There was £2m ring-fenced to pay for capital costs for a community hospital but it was not needed.”
After the meeting Mr Sibley said he is disappointed the cash has been withdrawn and wants the council to reconsider its position.
He said: “It’s disappointing because we are in desperate need of beds. The health authority keep telling me it’s because of a lack of money that we can’t have the extra beds.
“I will ask the council to reconsider its position.”
Mr Sibley added: “Twelve beds is not enough. These are the beds that have been in the hospital since back in the 18th century. We are a much bigger town now.
“With Bicester set to become the second largest town in Oxfordshire I think it’s vital these extra beds are put in place now.”
A spokesman for NHS Central Southern Commissioning Support Unit said: “The Bicester Community Hospital is being developed as per the approved business case which states 12 beds.”
Healthwatch Oxfordshire director David Roulston said: “There has been ongoing concern about whether the proposal to provide 12 beds will be sufficient to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding community in Bicester.
“It is important that the Clinical Commissioning Group demonstrates to the public the rationale for the number of beds which will be provided and offers reassurance that this will be sufficient.”
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