Ludlow Community Hospital has been under various degrees of threat over the last decade.
Despite local protests, the maternity unit was closed. Births are now only supported at the main hospitals or at home. Or community hospital provides pre- and post-natal care in the more modern buildings, some of which are not used. That has left the long neglected former infirmary building empty – that’s the red brick building ahead as you enter the top car park. The building has been in poor repair for many years and needs substantial investment to make it fit for any purpose.
The former infirmary building at the community hospital is now to be sold by the NHS, with half the proceeds invested in the local NHS estate. That’s fine as far as it goes but we should be cautious about reducing the size of the health estate in Ludlow until we have agreed plans for community health provision in the town.
Ludlow has a very fragmented health estate. We have two GP surgeries, a community hospital, the Helena Lane centre and Four Rivers and a building on Corve Street. Ludlow Community Hospital has been expanded over decades bit by bit and the current estate can best be described as chaotic. It is confusing to navigate for visitors and patients alike.
Tracey Huffer says:
“I can understand why the NHS wants to sell the building. It is financial liability and becoming unsafe. But it has only got into such a bad state because the NHS has failed to maintain the building over decades.
We need to think about how we manage health provision across Ludlow, which is the primary health hub for south west Shropshire.”
Future Fit, which has failed, was meant to be followed by Community Fit, which was intended to reorganise local health facilities. This has proved to be no more than a pipe dream.
The entire Ludlow Community Hospital site needs investment and reorganising as a health hub for our community.
There are fully functional wards that have been unused for years. They could be vital to alleviate the pressure on beds at the main hospitals this coming winter. They could help with the transformation from emergency treatment and acute surgery to people’s homes or a care facility.
Ludlow has a fragmented health estate. Our GPs and health professionals are working flat out. They are being asked to do more but unless we have a local plan for health provision, we are in danger of not having the state of the art facilities we will need by 2030.
It is perhaps time that we looked again at a health campus for Ludlow and the south west of the county.”
Andy Boddington adds:
“If this building is purchased by a housing developer, how will that fit with the use of the rest of the site? There are only around 40 parking spaces on the hospital site. Half of these could be needed for residents. The coming and going of residents could disturb patients in the community wards.
There would be similar problems if the former infirmary is converted to offices.
The main problem here is the lack of planning and lack of coordination between health providers and a lack of maintenance of the existing health estate.
Plans for a new hospital and health hub at Ludlow Eco Park were abandoned in 2013. The site is still owned by the NHS and there are no plans for its future. It’s a real waste of building land. The former workhouse at the heart of the Ludlow Community Hospital site was built in 1836 and is Grade II listed. But is now fenced off because the façade is crumbling.
We must begin planning for a modern health estate to serve Ludlow and south west Shropshire.”
In a letter to Andy Boddington on 22 October, Andrew Strange, Regional Partnership Director (Midlands) of NHS Property Services said:
“The site has now been declared surplus to current and future clinical requirements by Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group. We are therefore now working to sell the building. Disposing of this vacant property will mean that the local health system no longer has to pay for its maintenance, and that the funds can be diverted into frontline care. Additionally, under our new disposals policy, we will reinvest half of the net profits from the sale of the site back into our estate locally, with a view to improving the quality of our facilities for patients and staff.”
“We have already listed the site on the Government’s property database (ePIMS), but no public sector partners have expressed a desire to purchase it. We will therefore begin the open marketing of the building in the near future. Under the Government’s Estates Code, we will need to ensure that we secure “market value” for its sale. We will of course continue to maintain the more modern hospital buildings on the site to enable our NHS partners to deliver healthcare services to Ludlow and the surrounding area.”