Tuesday, 03 August 2021

So where’s our meeting room?

A COMMUNITY room could be missing from the new Townlands Hospital despite an undertaking that it would be included in the redevelopment

A COMMUNITY room could be missing from the new Townlands Hospital despite an undertaking that it would be included in the redevelopment.

The Maurice Tate Room was opened at the current hospital in 1973 in memory of a man who died following a car crash.

It has been used by a range of community groups, including the Henley Talking Newspaper, which makes weekly recordings there.

However, health chiefs this week refused to confirm whether the room would replicated in the new £16 million “health campus” currently being built at the hospital site.

Concern about reprovision of the room has risen since the publication of the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s public consultation document about services to be provided at the new hospital and its plans to cut the number of beds.

The new Maurice Tate Room was due to be located on the second floor of the new building but the commissioning group says it has no need of the space, which was also going to be used by Sue Ryder until the charity pulled out. Richard Hodgkin, chairman of the Talking Newspaper, said: “This is where the new community room was to be situated and seems to have been lost in the new plans. We need full clarification of this situation.

“I hold a draft copy of the section 106 agreement that should have been entered into prior to the start of the building that clearly says that a new community room would be provided in the new complex.

“The Maurice Tate Room was built by public subscription for use by local organisations and they were supposed to build a similar room under the same terms.

“If we don’t get that I don’t know what we will do. I will have a huge problem of  finding somewhere else to go that’s so accessible.”

Mr Hodgkin said that the Henley Stroke Club and the Henley Visually Impaired Group had also used the room until construction work began and access became more difficult.

Mr Tate, who was chairman of Henley Round Table, died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the crash in 1969. His wife Christina lost her sight in one eye. She died in 2011.

The couple’s son David, who is the joint managing director of estate agents Davis Tate, said he would be “very disappointed” if the memorial room vanished.

“I’d very upset,” he said. “For me, it has great personal significance because it’s a fantastic memorial to my dad.

“Back in the early Seventies, Round Table worked tirelessly to raise money from all sorts of events. It was three or four years of solid fund-raising by a group of guys who wanted to provide something in the town in memory of their chairman.

“It has proved, over the last 40 years, to be an invaluable community asset and this whole Townlands redevelopment is about keeping a community hospital.”

Mr Tate added that his mother had worked at Townlands for 15 years as secretary to the matron.

New Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier said: “I’m very concerned because it’s terribly important and we want to retain it as a community room and that was very much the wish of the Townlands League of Friends.”

Henley MP John Howell said he would raise the issue with the commissioning group’s chief executive David Smith.

Ian Reissmann, chairman of the Townlands Steering Group, said he felt there had been an “oversight.”

He said: “The room was promised to us so as far as I’m concerned it’s in the plans. I think this is a natural concern but I don’t believe there’s a threat to the Maurice Tate room. I think there’s simply an oversight in the document.

“The first priority is the first floor and the services to be delivered there.”

The Henley Standard asked the commissioning group if the room would be included in the new hospital but it refused to answer the question.

A spokeswoman said: “Our priority is to get the future model of care right so that we can best serve local health needsâ?¦ then we will look at how else we might use the building.

“We want to hear people’s views and suggestions, which is why we’re holding this public consultation.”

The commissioning group insists it’s not trying to save money by reducing the number of beds from the 18 originally promised to about five inside a new care home to be built at the site. It wants more patients to receive care at home.

The consultation will run until June 15. For more information, visit https://consult.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/consult.ti/Townlands/consultationHome

More News:

POLL: Have your say