A HOSPITAL will close for good, it was decided this afternoon (Wednesday).

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The decision to close Hitchin Hospital on Oughton Head Way was made by the county’s primary care trust (PCT), NHS Herts, which said that the facility was outdated.

The hospital, which has capacity for 10 patients, will see services commissioned to care homes in North Herts and Stevenage, with three potential locations so far identified.

Dr Jane Halpin, chief executive of NHS Hertfordshire said: “The NHS Hertfordshire Board and Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust have both given their support to this change, as we believe it will provide more flexible care and help integrate services for the benefit of patients.

“We’ve known for some time that Hitchin Hospital is not the right environment for providing modern healthcare and doesn’t have the facilities to help patients learn to become more independent. The beds are in an old Victorian building which offers very little personal privacy and there are no en-suite bathrooms.

“During our 12-week consultation we sought the views of patients, the public, GPs, councillors and other interested groups and heard a variety of views about how care should be provided in future. People who attended our conversation café agreed that Hitchin Hospital was no longer suitable for patient care. They also welcomed our idea to buy beds in care homes, so that patients can be looked after close to their families and support networks.”

Care providers Quantum Care and Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, which currently operates the hospital, will now work together to provide the beds and nursing and therapy staff to look after patients.

The site, which is worth an estimated £1.5m, has not yet been sold. The PCT said that it had not received any offers from other NHS providers or anyone else.

A spokesman from the community trust said: “Our first duty remains to our patients who are cared for in intermediate care beds and/or in their homes.

“Now that NHS Hertfordshire has made its decisions on developing intermediate care services in Hitchin and Royston, we will work with them to move quickly to provide the new accommodation for our staff at Royston Health Centre.

“Meanwhile, we will be working closely with the PCT and our partners Quantum to ensure that patients requiring intermediate care services receive the very highest standards of care.”

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