Asbestos discovery at Derbyshire hospital prompts public meeting to discuss its future

January 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM

The deadly dust was first discovered in the boiler room in the basement of the hospital during a routine inspection by staff in September.

Specialists were called in to remove the asbestos but, in the process, further material was found in other parts of the building.

It means clinics and services have been moved temporarily to Ilkeston Community Hospital, although physiotherapy services continue to operate in a separate part of the Heanor site.

The meeting - which is open to patients and members of the public - will take place at Heanor Town Hall on Thursday, January 30 from 7.30pm until 9pm.

It has been called by the NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group - the GP-led group which officially took over buying healthcare for the area's 525,000 patients last April.

Members of the group said talks had been ongoing between themselves and Derbyshire Community Health Services, which runs the hospital, about "the best way forward" since the hospital's closure.

Andy Layzell, the group's chief officer, said: "Patients and the public can be assured we are committed to enhancing and developing health services in Heanor.

"The finding of an extensive amount of asbestos, combined with the age of the building, means health services cannot be provided in the hospital building as it stands. So, we now need to look at finding the best solution for patients.

"I would like to stress no decisions have been made at this stage, as we are not yet at a point where we have identified the future options.

"However, no decisions will be made in the future without full public consultation. Patients are at the heart of everything we do and this meeting is an opportunity for us to share information and to listen to people's views and concerns.

"We hope that many local people will attend and give us their views."

William Jones, director of operations for Derbyshire Community Health Services, said: "There has never been any risk to our patients’ safety from the asbestos, which is safely contained and not airborne.

"Nevertheless, the necessary upgrading of the hospital's infrastructure is now much more complex and expensive. So, it's vital that we explore all the options and we look forward to hearing people's views at the meeting."

By Caroline Jones
Derby Telegraph