LETTER: Shoreham hospital future secured

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Can I be permitted to correct the letter from Shirley Smith about the future of the Southlands Hospital site?

I share her disappointment that the Harness Block has been declared surplus to requirements and will be replaced with new homes, much needed as they are.

However, it is not through lack of trying to retain a clinical use for the site with the Worthing Hospital trust advertising repeatedly to attract a new medical use for the building.

The sad reality is that it was a very inefficient building and costly to maintain, which is why only two Harness Blocks in the country were ever built. When the Medical Royal Colleges took the decision that in-patients were more safely looked after on the Worthing site, then its days were numbered.

Local doctors agreed with this decision and the public meetings I attended resigned themselves to the transfer and subsequent expansion of Worthing Hospital, which has now happened.

What we still lack and desperately need are community and step-down beds in Adur to help alleviate the pressure on Worthing and help rehabilitate local people closer to home. That campaign continues but the CCG has proved intransigent so far.

The good news is that all the proceeds from the Harness Block and probably some £2million extra will be reinvested into the remaining Southlands site, securing its long-term future as a state-of-the-art clinical centre. That has always been the case and Mrs Smith has quoted me wrongly. The new ophthalmology department is scheduled to open there by June, 2016, and day surgery and outpatients will be expanded and improved.

In the circumstances, this is a good result and one that could not have happened had the KWASH campaign not been successful in retaining major services at Worthing Hospital rather than exporting patients out of the county to Portsmouth and Brighton. Despite all the local pressures, Worthing is now one of the most efficient and safe hospitals in the country and I am sure everyone will join me in thanking the staff responsible.

Tim Loughton

Conservative parliamentary candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham

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