CONCERNS were expressed about where the proceeds of any future sale of Poltair Hospital would go as the consultation period over the future of the hospital began with a meeting at Penzance's St John's Hall last week.
Around 50 people attended the meeting along with a ten–strong team from the NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group as views were sought on the five options put forward for the community hospital sited between Madron and Heamoor.
Dr Neil Walden, the Penwith Locality Lead, stressed that the consultation would be completely open.
"An enormous amount of energy has gone into making this open and transparent," he said.
However, with only one of the five options involving the retention of (five) inpatient beds at Poltair, two of them not foreseeing any future for the hospital at all and a recognition that there would need to be a significant investment to bring Poltair up to date, the focus turned to what would happen to the money if the hospital was sold.
Pauline Schofield, a former Penwith district councillor, said her family had gifted Poltair a 'dying with dignity room' after the death of both her parents there and asked for a "categorical assurance" that any monies would stay in Penwith.
But it was confirmed that the proceeds from any sale would go straight to the NHS – owners of the property since it was gifted to them by the Bolitho family – with no guarantee that the money would be used for investment in health services in west Cornwall. There seemed general agreement among those attending that west Cornwall should have a facility of inpatient beds to care for the frail and elderly based in the Penzance area in addition to Edward Hain Hospital at St Ives; the Bellair clinic and former Bolitho maternity unit on Penzance promenade were suggested as possible sites.
Carol Rowe, chairman of the Friends of West Cornwall and Poltair Hospital noted that one of the wards at West Cornwall Hospital was full of people who would normally be treated at Poltair and also that the number of community beds in the area had already been reduced by a third.
It was a similar story at St Just's drop-in meeting on Monday after which town councillors expressed concerns that a potential sale of the hospital would see the money raised used outside of west Cornwall.
Neil McFadden, deputy mayor, said he did not want to see money "go upcountry" and argued that the council should "collectively say something to protect residents".
Consultation documents are available from NHS Kernow; GP practices in west Cornwall; libraries; community hospitals; pharmacies; council one stop shops; West Cornwall Hospital and online at www.kernowccg.nhs.uk/poltair
Further sessions take place at St Ives Leisure Centre on January 8 and at Committee Room 1, One Stop Shop, St Clare, Penzance on January 5.