Families launch Facebook campaign to save Norwich Community Hospital nursery

Families have launched a campaign in a bid to save a hospital nursery from closure.

Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) says it needs to close the Fledglings Day Nursery at Norwich Community Hospital because it makes a loss and has to be subsidised.

But families are signing up to a campaign on social networking website Facebook in a bid to stop the Bowthorpe Road nursery from shutting at the end of August.

Howard Tidman, 43, set up the Facebook group, which has 150 members, because he says his children Esmee, three, and Spencer, one, are settled and happy at the nursery and it would be disruptive to move them.

The Lakenham dad and his partner, Dawn Fisk, from Hatton Road, are both psychiatric nurses and he said many staff from other NHS trusts used the nursery as they felt they could trust the quality of service. He said: 'I think they are charging commercial rates so I can't see why they are losing money when other nurseries are have similar prices. I think the staff are wonderful and the facilities are lovely.'

Peta Kerrigan, a Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital employee whose son attended Fledglings for four years, said: 'It is a great shame to see it close and it makes me angry that there has been no push to turn it around.' She added: 'I cannot believe that with better marketing or a private nursery firm that it wouldn't be a viable business. Friends of mine are having to put their children on nursery lists before they are born to get places, so the demand is there.'

Anna Morgan, of NCH&C, said every effort had been made to try to keep the nursery open, but it was costing �50,000 a year to subsidise and the money could be spent on improving services for patients.

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She said: 'We have made every effort to keep the Fledglings nursery open and throughout the 12-month review we took the view that if we could keep it running in the future, we would.

'In order to further improve the nursery, we brought in an experienced nursery manager to support the existing staff and to help turn it around. We also made improvements to the portable cabin itself by updating the kitchen facilities. However, despite also making Fledglings available for use by families not employed by local NHS trusts and promoting the nursery to both our new starters and at Sure Start Centres, it is still only running at around 40pc occupancy.

'We investigated the possibility of offering the business to another provider, either subcontracted or completely separate to our organisation. However, after lengthy discussions they deemed that Fledglings was not a viable business for them.'

She added: 'I can understand parents' disappointment at the news that the nursery is to close, as the care provided by the staff at Fledglings has been excellent. We are committed to working with parents to ensure they can find suitable alternative provision wherever possible.'

Are you battling to save a nursery? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.