HITCHIN Hospital is expected to remain closed for up to a month, after a number of faults were discovered there whilst fixing continuing problems with the heating system.

The building has already been closed for nearly three weeks, after closing on Christmas Eve when the heating and hot water system broke down.

Engineers have now installed new parts and equipment, and the ongoing problems have been resolved.

But other issues have emerged, including a leaking roof and issues with the main water storage tank, resulting in works being carried out to fix these.

It is expected that the hospital will remain closed for at least another two weeks, although this could be as much as four.

“The engineers have now been able to repair the hot water system and install new parts to ensure adequate heating,” said Julie Hoare, acting director of operations for Hertfordshire Community NHS trust.

“We have also used the enforced closure as an opportunity to assess the hospital’s overall condition and our estates personnel discovered a number of faults which require urgent repair or replacement. These include a leaking roof and replacement of the main water storage tank.

“We hope that the work will be completed and the unit reopened within a month and the hospital will remain closed while the work is carried out.

“We are keeping patients, carers and local GPs appraised of the situation and are maintaining extra capacity at other community hospitals in Hertfordshire.”

17 rehabilitation patients who were housed at the hospital before Christmas have been accommodated in other trust facilities, gone to nursing homes or been discharged home with additional support.

They continue to be updated on the situation at the hospital.

“Apart from patients requiring physiotherapy on Christmas Eve afternoon, the majority of patients were moved in the morning and all were comfortably in their designated accommodation by that evening,” said Ms Hoare, of the Christmas Eve closure.

“We would like to thank all the staff who worked so hard to make the transfer of patients as smoothly as possible.”