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Hospital closure rumours quashed; HEALTH: Ward at Sir Robert Peel's temporarily shut due to lack of patients.

Byline: Justine Halifax

TAMWORTH'S Robert Peel Hospital "will not close", say health chiefs.

Tamworth's would-be MP Christopher Pincher has "received assurances" from South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) that the Robert Peel Hospital in Fazeley will stay open.

Rumours had been rife among staff that the entire hospital was facing the axe following the news that a ward was being mothballed at the same time that staff contracts are being changed. But the PCT said the hospital's Philip ward is only closing temporarily due to a lack of patients.

In a written statement to Mr Pincher, the PCT chairman Anne Heckels, said: "South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust Provider Services are currently appointing a new supplier for a range of speciality services delivered in both Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital and Samuel Johnson Community Hospital in Lichfield.

"This change will not result in any alterations to, or reduction in, the actual services being delivered."

But Mr Pincher, Tamworth's Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman, confessed that he remained concerned for the ward's long term future. He said: "I was contacted by the relatives of concerned hospital staff so I took up the matter with the PCT. I am reassured that the future of the hospital appears safe despite the cuts to healthcare spending buried deep in the Government's budget forecasts.

"However, I remain concerned about plans for Philip ward.

"It may be that its closure is described as "temporary" but there is no firm date for its reopening - which means the date could be pushed back and back. I shall monitor developments here closely and will keep in touch with staff and patients."

In 2008 the local community, supported by the Conservatives, won a battle to stop parking charges being imposed on hospital patients and visitors. It is hoped that a similar campaign will persuade the PCT to guarantee the future of the hospital.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 8, 2009
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