Saturday, 31 July 2021

Negotiations continue on empty hospital floor

HEALTH chiefs have been accused of keeping patients in the dark over the empty top floor of the

HEALTH chiefs have been accused of keeping patients in the dark over the empty top floor of the new Townlands Hospital in Henley.

Ian Reissmann, who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, says he is “disappointed” not to have more information on the various parties interested in moving to the hospital, which include the Bell and Hart Surgeries.

The floor was left empty after Sue Ryder pulled out of a deal to relocate from its hospice in Nettlebed in December 2014.

In July, the Henley GPs said a move to Townlands could be the “right choice” but they believed NHS Property Services would charge rent of £250,000 a year.

Cllr Reissmann said: “It’s going to be some time before that floor is open with whatever service is going in it.

“We don’t have much information, so we would like to know what stage the plans are at, how close we are and any possible dates.

“We are disappointed that we are in the dark on any other options for the floor and the timescales. It is important not just for health services but as a financial model. The hospital’s figures added up when Sue Ryder was still involved.

“We need a health service to be delivered locally. We would like to see a free-to-use NHS service at Townlands rather than a private clinic or administration and we’ve made that clear.”

Cllr Reissmann said he believes the surgeries are the front-runners for the empty floor but that NHS Property Services would also be talking to other interested parties.

He said: “It’s very important to them to get income. I know they are looking around because, apart from anything else, they need to look at what’s best financially and for the health needs of people in the community.”

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said: “We are proactively seeking a new occupier for the second floor. Discussions with prospective tenants are constructive and very much continuing.

“It is important to secure tenants for this prime site as soon as possible and we are exploring all options as we offer the space initially to our public sector partners.”

Henley MP John Howell says he is personally talking to another party interested in the empty floor but that doesn’t mean a deal with the surgeries won’t go ahead.

He said: “I’ve not heard anything about the surgeries move breaking down and as far as I’m concerned the parties are still negotiating.”

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