‘Time running out’ for plans for Southlands
HEALTH minister Anna Soubry has been looking into proposals for the future of the Harness Block at Southlands Hospital.
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, hosted the meeting at the end of January to explore an alternative business plan for the disused block.
Miss Soubry talked over the options with officials from the Department of Health, Worthing consultant Dr Krishna Singh and Shoreham councillor Rod Hotton.
Mr Loughton said: “It was a useful meeting, though it is clear that time is running out to find heavyweight partners who would provide realistic funding for such an undertaking and a sustainable funding stream.
“However, Rod and Dr Singh will be going back for further discussions with the hospital trust, looking at new alternatives. I will keep constituents posted.”
The meeting, held at the House of Commons, was held to devise an alternative business plan for the Harness Block, before it is designated as surplus to requirements by the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust.
Mr Loughton explained he and local councillors had long been campaigning to find another medical use for the block.
He said he attended a meeting with a group of local residents. led by Mr Hotton, last year to see if an alternative use for the site could be found.
It was hoped this would include doctor training facilities, respite care, elderly step down convalescent care and public health facilities.
A successful informal meeting followed in December, between the joint bidders for the Harness Block and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust.
The trust, which operates acute hospital services at Southlands, Worthing and St Richard’s, will be retaining the out-patient buildings on the east of the Shoreham site, fronting Hammy Lane.
Its chief role will be as a centre of excellence for ophthalmology and once they have decided the exact borders of the land needed for the project, the remainder of the site will be available for sale.
This means any bidders for the Harness Block will be able to include peripheral buildings, as well as much of the car park, making it a much more attractive proposition.
Any public funded and backed community health function that is proven to be tangible will get priority purchase over a commercial bid.
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