Closure fears over hospital name change proposal

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HEALTH bosses suggested changing the name of Kelso Hospital last week, prompting fears that they plan to close it, writes Sally Gillespie.

Local social workers are moving into the hospital’s closed Ward 1 and at last Tuesday’s community council meeting NHS Borders’ Elaine Torrance and Alasdair Pattinson suggested considering “Kelso Community Care Centre” as a new name.

But community council vice-chairman John Bassett blasted: “I told them they had already gone through the back door to do shut Ward 1 – to the people of Kelso it’s going to look like they are trying to go behind their backs and do the same thing again [and close the whole hospital].”

He suggested instead that the name should be Kelso Hospital and Community Care Centre, which the health board officials agreed to consider.

A spokesperson for NHS Borders said: “There are absolutely no plans whatsoever to close Kelso Hospital at all.”

She said any name changes would be up to the board: “There has been no discussion with the board on a name change for this facility, although with the new services going in we will have to update the signage.”

Kelso’s 19-bed former Ward 1, understood latterly to be for acute, palliative care and rehabilitation, closed last November.

The NHS Borders spokesperson said changes in the old ward to incorporate social workers and home care staff and improve day services and the day hospital are costing £180,000. The move-in date of the social work and home care services is scheduled for spring next year.

Kelso hospital includes a day hospital, rehabilitation and GP beds now also covering the Coldstream area, physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy.

Poynder View, the hospital’s 16-bed specialist unit for people with dementia, closed in January 2009.

NHS Borders’ chief operating officer Jane Davidson said: “The Cheviot Project [NHS Borders’ changes at the hospital and wider Cheviot area] aims to shift the balance of care to support people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, moving from a heavily bed-dependent model, which we know is not sustainable, to an integrated ‘hub’ model which can be accessed in one location.

“The project represents an investment in the future of Kelso Community Hospital as a resource available to the local community.