Beccles Hospital extension plan given the go-ahead

Victoria NichollsA proposal to boost facilities at Beccles Hospital have been given the green light, a decision that could see new treatment rooms ready by the end of next summer.Victoria Nicholls

A proposal to boost facilities at Beccles Hospital have been given the green light, a decision that could see new treatment rooms ready by the end of next summer.

Waveney District Council has approved the plan for extensions and a 19-space car park at the site on St Mary's Road.

NHS Great Yarmouth Waveney submitted a planning application for three single-storey extensions housing two consulting rooms and an examination room in the outpatients department, and a new palliative care suite.

The development is aimed at dealing with increasing numbers of patients and alleviating traffic congestion. Now that planning permission has been given for the project, which also has the backing of Beccles Town Council, the health trust will make a decision on whether to go ahead with the work.

Chris Scott, a member of the Friends of Beccles Hospital, said the council's decision was positive for existing and future patients. He added that it appeared to be a step away from the option of relocating the facility, that was met with disapproval from local people when it was publicised.

"I'm pleased about it," he said. "I think it's enhancing the hospital. That should strengthen the case for it to stay there. I don't think they would go and start building things if they were going to move it.

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"There is a problem with the car park and the other thing that does make parking difficult for people is that sometimes people park there on a Friday when it's market day, so that doesn't help."

Mr Scott, whose late wife received treatment at Beccles Hospital for a brain tumour, said that from personal experience he felt it was important that the facility remained in its current location.

"My wife Doreen used to have to see one of the consultants from the James Paget Hospital and she used to go there for appointments," he said. "It's very handy for people who can't get to the Paget."

He added that when he was mayor of Beccles in 2006 he spent time looking round the hospital, which opened in 1924.

"It has got a lot of support," he said. "It's got such a personal touch. When my wife was in there they were so good with her."

Andy Peck, head of estates and risk management for NHS Great Yarmouth Waveney, said: "The business case for the investment at Beccles Hospital will be discussed by our board at its meeting on Wednesday. If the board gives the project its approval, we will carry out a tendering process to appoint a developer. The building and refurb-ishment work would take around six to eight months and be completed by the end of next summer."

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