NHS bosses unveil beginnings of master plan to re-develop Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely - a decision warmly welcomed

Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely.

Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely. - Credit: Archant

A major re-development of the Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely, has been unveiled by joint owners the NHS and the Ministry of Defence.

It could see older parts of the hospital demolished with new buildings and expanded facilities brought together on a smaller but fully equipped site.

Empty MoD houses will either be knocked down or modernised as part of a master plan that could also include specialist nursing accommodation for the elderly.

A confidential briefing given to local councillors by the Cambridgeshire Community Services – who own the NHS part of the site-, was well received.

“We took away with us a positive and confident message about the future of the hospital,” said one councillor.

“I am confident too that the outcome will be even better for the local people who use and rely on this hospital.”

NHS officials said talks were taking place with not only GPs but also with the ambulance service and there had been talk of working with the fire service as they move towards greater integration with other emergency services.

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Kev Adams, assistant director of estates, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said: “We are at an early stage in developing with partners plans to ensure the long term sustainability of the community hospital.

“This is a really exciting initiative and our aim is to improve the facilities on the site and ensure it provides a thriving community hub and high quality public services.” He also described talks with councillors as “positive”.

Mr Adams added: “It is early days but we will seek the views of all stakeholders including clinicians, partners (including the district council) and the local community as this work progresses.

“We anticipate being able to share initial plans in Spring 2017.”

RAF Ely, as it was known, became a district general hospital in the last war to provide medical and surgical care to servicemen and women as well as local people.

It was renamed the Princess of Wales Hospital in 1987, but was closed by the RAF in 1992.

The hospital was saved by a local pressure group, Action for a Community Hospital in Ely (ACHE). In 1993, Lifespan Healthcare NHS Trust took it over and began to develop services.

The hospital then became part of East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Primary Care Trust in 2002 following the disbandment of Lifespan Healthcare.

In October 2006 it became part of Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust.

In 1992 SE Cambs MP Jim Paice raised the future of the hospital in the House of Commons. He spoke of a “cloud” over the hospital as threats of closure emerged.

His spirited defence of hospital ensured it remained to fight another day.

Councillor Anna Bailey said she had been assured that the CCS in their guise as property owners were working closely with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group who are responsible for the commissioning of health services on the site, who are responsible for the minor injuries unit.

“She felt confident they would work together “to present to the public what the future health care provision for our area will look like”.