COMMERCE: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group is considering moving services away from an ‘unviable’ community hospital, despite a ‘long history of failed attempts’ to close it.

The CCG plans to develop an outline business case to move services out of Royston Hospital to a new facility on the same site, according to a paper discussed at its board meeting this month.

It said the hospital, which was purpose built in 1924, is becoming “economically unviable”. The building is “for the most part empty” but heating and facilities run throughout the whole hospital. There is also a “large maintenance backlog”.

An options appraisal report by NHS Property Services, which owns the site, said: “The accommodation provided is suboptimal and would not meet current NHS standards in regards to space planning and allowances.

“Overall, the building does not provide a good environment for patients to be treated in or for staff to work in.”

Only 8 per cent of the building is used for clinical services and 27 per cent for administration, the report said. Nearly two-thirds of the hospital is “currently void”.

The majority of services are provided by Hertfordshire Community Trust, which is charged a below market rent. Voluntary services provided at the site are not charged rent. Last year the property raised £85,000 in income from the trust, compared to its £156,000 total expenditure.

The report recommended building a new, smaller healthcare facility within the existing site boundaries, as well as a new 75 bed care home. It could also be “feasible” for some land to be sold for residential housing.

The CCG now plans to “identify the preferred option in both financial and non-financial terms”. NHS Property Services estimates that it could take about two and half years from drawing up business case to opening the new facility.

The latest push follows what the CCG described as “a long history of failed attempts to find a sustainable solution for Royston services”.

Plans by the former Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust fell apart because funding secured by the PCT to redevelop a local practice to take on the services failed to materialise.

The most recent attempt to sell the hospital was abandoned last year following a successful application under the Localism Act by a community action group.