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140522 | Discussions held on St Michael's hospital's closure | The Cornishman


Discussions held on St Michael's hospital's closure

By The Cornishman | Posted: May 22, 2014

Discussions held on St Michael's hospital's closure
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FEARS over the future of St Michael's Hospital have increased after a board member confirmed discussions had taken place about its closure.

Concerns the hospital would close for good were fuelled when a representative from Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) admitted it was struggling to keep the facility viable at a Hayle Town Council meeting.

The news comes after a report by Health Initiative Cornwall listed St Michael's as a facility under threat due to years of underfunding.

Despite a recent investment of £6 million to create two new theatres, improve digital X-ray facilities and refurbish wards, RCHT says a further £5 million has to be spent to bring the facility up to modern healthcare standards.

At the town council meeting last week, chief operating officer at RCHT, Jo Gibbs, said patient numbers had dropped at St Michael's because of competition from Duchy Hospital.

She said: "As a board we have had discussions about closing all sorts of facilities including St Michael's.

"There's no question as a standalone facility we do struggle to remain viable."

She added the hospital is working to encourage people to use St Michael's over Duchy Hospital.

The hospital specialises in orthopaedics, breast surgery and limited vascular and oral surgery.

However, the lack of high-dependency facilities or out-of-hours consultant cover means the hospital is limited to the procedures it can carry out, which Ms Gibbs highlighted as a further issue.

To turn its fortune around, the trust said it was reviewing the case to invest in four new en suite rooms on St Joseph's Ward.

The hospital has received excellent reviews from the Care Quality Commission and patients, leading councillors to strongly voice their concerns about losing the community asset.

Councillor Jayne Ninnes said to Ms Gibbs: "Don't come here and think you can drip-feed to us that there are issues and then close our hospital.

"I would expect that given the excellent product, the strategic team at RCHT should be able to keep the hospital open.

"You need to take action now to make best and full use of our excellent hospital."

Ms Gibbs denied there had ever been any discussion at board level about selling St Michael's to a private competitor.

When the hospital services came under threat in 2006, more than 20,000 people took to the streets to campaign.

The town council said the reaction would be the same if the trust decided to close the hospital.