12:00am Friday 26th April 2013
GOVERNMENT officials have cleared the way for the new Ludlow Community Hospital to go ahead.
The decision by the Department for Health means work can begin on the £26 million hospital and health village in the summer.
No official announcement is planned until after the forthcoming local council elections but the Advertiser can reveal the final obstacle has been cleared.
Approval was given by the Strategic Health Authority almost a year ago and work was expected to start in autumn 2012.
But then a change in legislation threatened the project by blocking health chiefs from giving financial assurances demanded by the private sector partner that will fund the scheme.
This could have left the private sector partner at risk should the local NHS body run out of money.
The issue became public after local NHS bosses were unable to resolve the issue and Ludlow MP Philip Dunne became involved.
He met with a minister at the Department of Heath earlier this year to try to break the logjam.
Ludlow Community Hospital and Health Village will be built by the private sector developer and leased back to the NHS.
Critics of such arrangements point out that the cost to the public purse is much higher in the long run and that the private sector partner carries no risk for a big profit.
Although the building is owned by the private sector partner, it will be run by the NHS, which also owns the equipment.
The site will also be the location for the two town centre GP surgeries that will move onto the site on the Eco Park.
As well as more that 30 inpatient beds there will be a range of clinics and outpatient services that are currently only available in Shrewsbury.
There will be a kidney dialysis suit and there has been talk of a chemotherapy unit although this has not been confirmed.
The Friends of Ludlow Hospital will also be funding a palliative care facility that will provide a bedroom, sitting room and kitchen area for the families of patients receiving end of life care.
Mr Dunne will hold a meeting next month to provide an update on the plans.
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