No plans to close loss-making Brants Bridge cancer clinicBy Becky Barnes
February 07, 2013
Health bosses insist there are no plans to close the loss-making Royal Berkshire Bracknell Clinic at Brants Bridge.
The cancer and renal clinic was described as a “significant financial drain” in a report last year which outlined options including selling the site.
However, a spokesman for Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust said this week: “There are no plans to close it.”
Papers published from a board of directors meeting included suggestions from NHS independent regulator Monitor that the clinic could be ‘disposed of’, but health chiefs insist the centre has a future.
Cllr Dale Birch, executive member for adult services, health and housing at Bracknell Forest Council, said: “The future of Brants Bridge looks good. It is so critical it is there, in that location, in the middle of the population.”
The clinic has been earmarked to house an urgent care centre under NHS plans to close services at Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot.
It will also become home to a children’s evening clinic, which will be piloted for nine months, from 4pm to 9pm Mondays to Fridays, to stop parents making ‘unnecessary’ trips to A&E.
The project has been delayed while staff are recruited.
Cllr Birch added: “When the centre was opened by Royal Berkshire it was believed the size of the market for its services was going to be bigger than it is.
“All that has happened is the health services delivered today are totally different to three to four years ago – the market has significantly changed.”
Monitor estimates in 2012/13 the clinic will make a loss in the region of £3 million to £4 million so advised a number of options to solve problems.
Recommendations from Monitor included: “The trust should seek expert legal, corporate finance, and/or operational support, as appropriate, to ensure that Bracknell is either disposed of or, if this is not possible, incorporated into a coherent clinical estates strategy.”
The report went on to say the trust’s ‘preferred option’ would be to draw new activity from Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group to sustain, which fits into plans for the long-awaited Healthspace.
Cllr Birch added the clinic was finding other ways to increase throughput by flagging up issues early and getting partners to come in. He said: “They can take income from other partners for rent – Frimley [Park Hospital] are already in there and there are plans for the urgent care centre in the future.”