A North Yorkshire MP has criticised the NHS for pressing ahead with the sale of a former hospital building “despite being presented with two community and health based options”.
Conservative Kevin Hollinrake says the Lambert Hospital building in Chapel Street, Thirsk, is “a prime site next to existing GP services and would be ideal for a mix of health and community use”.
NHS Property Services seem now intent on selling it to the highest bidder, possibly for conversion to flats.Kevin Hollinrake
The building was used as a hospital from 1894 until it was closed by South Tees NHS Trust in the autumn of 2015 because of staff shortages. The NHS said the recently-proposed schemes would be “unaffordable”.
Mr Hollinrake said in a statement: “The fact that NHS Property Services and Hambleton and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group rejected this first proposal and then a further plan by Hambleton Council to keep it solely for community use has also been turned down is a huge blow.
“NHS Property Services seem now intent on selling it to the highest bidder, possibly for conversion to flats.
“However, I will not give up the fight to keep it for local use, as I believe it was intended when it was bequeathed to the people of Thirsk, as I know how important and necessary it is for the local community”.
An NHS Property Services spokeswoman said officials “proactively engaged” with groups including the council over its proposals but that they were “unaffordable from an NHS perspective”.
She said: “The District Council made an offer to purchase the site, however we are unable to accept offers below market value as this would not be in the interests of achieving the best value for the NHS.”
As a company owned by the office of the Secretary of State for Health, any money made by NHS Property Services goes back to the NHS.
This means officials have a responsibility to sell empty buildings as quickly as possible to avoid further cost for the NHS.
Janet Probert, Chief Officer of NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The CCG previously looked at options for the redevelopment of the Lambert Hospital site prior to transferring it back to NHS Property Services, who own the property.
“We were disappointed that we were unable to come up with an affordable solution.
“The CCG has recently facilitated discussions between Hambleton District Council and NHS Property Services regarding the future of the Lambert Hospital site.
“We are very disappointed that an affordable community solution could not be made for the Lambert Hospital site.
“As the CCG does not own the hospital site, we are unable to accept or reject any offer to purchase the site.”