Crunch time for Heanor’s hospital

Heanor Memorial Hospital
Heanor Memorial Hospital

A crisis meeting is to be held in Heanor to decide the fate of the town’s hospital - months after widespread asbestos was discovered there.

Patients and the public are invited to attend the crunch talks at Heanor Town Hall’s Ian Cox Room on Thursday, January 30 from 7.30pm – 9.00pm.

But signs that the 1925 building will continue to serve the town’s healthcare needs in its current form look to be in some doubt.

Chief officer at NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG Andy Layzell, said: “Patients and the public can be assured that we are committed to enhancing and developing health services in Heanor.

“The finding of an extensive amount of asbestos combined with the age of the building means that health services cannot be provided in the hospital building as it stands.

“So, we now need to look at finding the best solution for patients.”

But Mr Layzell continued: “I would like to stress that no decisions have been made at this stage as we are not yet at a point where we have identified the future options.

“However, no decisions will be made in the future without full public consultation.

“Patients are at the heart of everything we do and this meeting is an opportunity for us to share information and to listen to people’s views and concerns.

“We hope that many local people will attend and give us their views.”

The meeting has been called by NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CGG), which plans and buys healthcare for the area’s 525,000 patients.

Heanor Memorial Hospital has been closed since last September following the discovery of asbestos in the boiler room.

The potentially substance generally used as a fire retardant in thermal insulation products was detected during preliminary work to upgrade the hospital’s heating system, electrical wiring, fire alarms and telecommunications.

The find prompted Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust to carry out a full structural survey which revealed asbestos in other parts of the hospital, particularly in heating pipework ducts under the ward floors.

Inpatient care and outpatient clinics usually provided at Heanor Memorial Hospital are currently being delivered at Ilkeston Community Hospital.

Director of operations for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust William Jones, said: “There has never been any risk to our patients’ safety from the asbestos, which is safely contained and not airborne.

“Nevertheless, the necessary upgrading of the hospital’s infrastructure is now much more complex and expensive.

“So, it’s vital that we explore all the options and we look forward to hearing people’s views at the meeting.”