Refurbish or rebuild - those were the options put on the table for Heanor Memorial Hospital at Thursday night’s crunch public meeting.
But neither will be cheap William Jones, director of operations Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust told a packed public meeting - saying it would cost £850,000 to clear the asbestos and bring the 1925 building up to scratch.
And he also told a vocal gathering of nearly 300 that the best option might be to knock the buildings down and build a new £1.6million facility in its place.
He said: “If we spent £850,000 refurbishing the building, that is not going to solve all the problems.
“I don’t think it would take much to work out that it would be best to seek a new building at around £1.6million than invest in a building which is never going to anything other than very old.”
The Ilkeston Road hospital has been closed since September after brown asbestos was found in the boiler room.
Thursday’s meeting chaired by the members of the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commisioning Group (CCG) and Derbyshire Community Health Services (DCHS) NHS Trust aimed to discuss ‘the options available’ now the current building is unusable as it stands.
At the meeting, so full all 300 attendants had to be moved from its original venue of Heanor Town Hall down the road to St Lawrence’s Church, chief officer of the DCHS Andy Layzell promised to arrange for Heanor folk to take a tour of the abandoned facility.
He said: “A few of us went round the hospital last week and It’s not fit for going forward in the future. We want you to see some of that as well.
“We’ll have to think how we do this but we want to give an opportunity for members of the public to see hospital how it is.”
Mr Layzell said four commitments were being made by the panel to the people of Heanor that night.
The first was that health services will remain in the town, during which Mr Layzell announced plans to move the blood clinic currently operating in Ilkeston to the Old Fire Station at Wilmot Street.
Secondly he said that if the building does need to be demolished “there will be a new NHS building on that site.
“What we need from you,” he continued, “is for you to work with us on what that building will look like and what’s inside.”
He promised transparency and another meeting in three months.
The strength of feeling for the town’s memorial hospital, paid for by public funds following World War One was evident at the meeting. Many asked for a return of a minor injuries unit at a new facility - others asked that outpatient beds to be included and several asked why it took until 2013 to discover asbestos at the 1925 site.
Mr Layzell noted: “We have never underestimated the commitment of the people of Heanor to that hospital.
“A lot of you will have been in that hospital or will have known someone that’s been in there.”
In fact a straw poll conducted by one woman in the crowd, showed more than that. The show of hands revealed many folk had even been born there.”