Heatherwood Hospital downsizing plan blocked

Wexham Park Hospital The trust has already said about 100 beds at its Wexham Park Hospital will have to go

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Plans by a cash-strapped NHS trust to downsize the site of a Berkshire hospital have been blocked.

Bosses had applied to remove protected property status from its Heatherwood Hospital site in Ascot, Berkshire.

Windsor and Maidenhead council raised fears that moving services to a smaller site would impact on patients.

Independent NHS regulator Monitor threw out the plans after the NHS trust failed to provide key information. The trust said it was disappointed.

Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is desperately trying to make savings.

It recently announced about 100 beds could be cut at Slough's Wexham Park Hospital by the end of the year and it is to receive an £18m loan from the government.

The trust had highlighted land and buildings it deemed surplus to requirements at Heatherwood and said it could relocate services, including mental health and social services, to its other sites.

It did not reveal what it planned to do with the land if the status was removed but said it was unhappy with the decision.

In a statement the trust said: "Monitor had sought more information to support the proposal, which the trust was unable to provide as it concerns decisions that will form part of the trust's turnaround plan going forward, and therefore the information is not yet available.

'Jeopardise future'

"The trust is on track to deliver its turnaround plan to return the organisation to financial balance."

The council said it understood the need for the trust to make savings and would try to help, but not at the expense of services.

Councillor Simon Dudley, deputy leader of the council, said: "Removal of the legal protection could have ultimately jeopardised the future of the hospital.

"We heartily welcome the regulator's decision. It is excellent news for our residents as it achieves the outcome pushed for by the council - the protection of local services."

If the trust wants to re-apply to remove the protected status of the site it is required to start the process again.

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