Supporters of Brackley’s 23-year-long project to replace its ageing cottage hospital have been dealt a blow after a key organisation backed out at the last minute.
The Order of St John Care Trust this week announced it had withdrawn from a deal to run up to 12 intermediate care beds and a care home which form part of the new health campus planned as part of the Network 401 development off Northampton Road.
Just over two decades ago the NHS announced it would be closing the Cottage Hospital in Pebble Lane and the Cottage Hospital Trust (CHT) was launched to keep it open.
George Britchfield, chairman of the CHT was Brackley mayor at the time and has campaigned for a replacement ever since.
South Northants Council’s planning committee is set to give its view on the principle of the health campus next month.
Mr Britchfield said it was frustrating to see the Order pull out, but vowed to carry on supporting the cottage hospital until a new organisation can be found to run the care home.
He said: “It is annoying at this very late stage that a decision has been made by what would have been our key stakeholder.
“But it is not the end of the project in any shape or form.
“It is a blip on the way to finding out what will ultimately be up there or who will be there.
“The project and planning application will proceed.”
Dr Charles Perrott, Brackley’s lead clinician in the Core Development Group which is at the heart of the project, said: “This is disappointing news at this late stage, but we have received reassurance from Nene Clinical Commissioning Group that the provision of intermediate care beds in the community is essential for the future of the NHS locally.”
In a statement, the Order said it had been the preferred partner for the project since 2008 and added: “In the intervening years the care commissioning environment in the area has changed significantly, with more older people being cared for in the community.
“As a charity with limited resources we have reassessed priorities and decided that it would not be prudent to develop a new care home in this location.”