AFTER years of dithering and delay, the final decision on Littlehampton Hospital is now just weeks away.
Campaigners fighting for a new hospital to be built on the site of the town’s much-loved health facility, demolished more than six years ago, have made a final, impassioned plea to health bosses as the clock ticks down to the crucial decision later this month.
Councillor Gillian Brown, leader of Arun District Council, and Littlehampton mayor Alan Gammon, this week publicly called on NHS Sussex chief Amanda Fadero to take into account the strong public feeling.
Their call came as the health trust’s board members and officials prepared for their crunch meeting on Tuesday, March 27 at Uckfield, when the hospital’s fate will be announced.
Mrs Brown said: “As we enter the last few weeks before the decision is finally made, I once again urge NHS Sussex to bear in mind the very strong reaction our campaign has prompted.
“I remain optimistic that the local health trust will do what’s right and finally deliver on its promise for the town.”
In December, campaigners presented more than 8,000 protest letters signed by supporters to 10 Downing Street. Since then, more have been arriving at Arun Civic Centre on a daily basis.
Anyone still wanting to sign the letter has until March 13 to do so. Then, the final bundle will be sent to NHS Sussex.
Mr Gammon said: “I, along with the thousands of people who have backed this latest campaign, urge Ms Fadero and her NHS board colleagues to do the right thing. The people of Littlehampton have spoken in one united voice. I don’t think they could be clearer and I look forward to hearing some long-anticipated good news on March 27.
“The new hospital would serve more than 75,000 people, benefiting not just the people of Littlehampton, but people in the surrounding towns and villages. We have made the case for its need time and time again.”
The old hospital was demolished in 2005 after planning permission was granted for a 20-bed facility on the site. The town was promised a hospital with treatment rooms for chiropody, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, rehabilitation services and x-rays.
Building work was due to start in 2006 but was delayed after the health trust blamed “budget problems”.
In 2008, health bosses said “the time was right” to build the new hospital and that it would be up and running by 2010.
The open protest letters are available online at www.arun.gov.uk/giveusourhospital and at the Littlehampton Gazette offices in Beach Road, Littlehampton, and Arun Civic Centre reception, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, or use the version printed on page 4 of this week’s Littlehampton Gazette (March 1 issue).