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Norwich Community Hospital's nursery to close

PUBLISHED: 11:00 04 April 2011

Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road.

Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road.

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2006

A hospital's loss-making nursery is to close - after health bosses decided they could not afford to continue to subsidise the service.

The Fledglings Day Nursery at Norwich Community Hospital, in Bowthorpe Road, will continue to operate fully until its closure at the end of August.

The nursery, which has room for a maximum of 62 children, serves mainly families and staff at the hospital and is run by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C).

Anna Morgan, NCH&C director of service pathways, said: “The board felt very strongly that, as this service continues to run at a loss, and in light of the extensive 12-month review during which we tried to find solutions to turn the business around without success, we can no longer keep Fledglings open.

“It was felt that in the current economic climate, where all NHS organisations are doing their very utmost to ensure our patients continue to receive the best services, we could no longer unofficially subsidise this service.”

She added that NCH&C was not commissioned to provide this service for the NHS, and as an NHS organisation could not ‘subsidise’ childcare for its own 20 staff members who were also parents of children at the nursery, or for the other local NHS staff who use the service.

She explained that during the review - within which the views of parents and staff working at the nursery have been taken into consideration - all possibilities to keep the nursery open were fully investigated.

She said: “These options have included whether it would be suitable or sustainable for NCH&C to continue running the nursery, the possibility of sub-contracting it to another provider under our umbrella, and offering the business up for another nursery to run, separate to our organisation.

“We spoke to many local nursery businesses and did go some way down the route of another nursery provider coming in, but in the end they felt that it was not a commercially viable or sustainable business.

“I’m sure parents will be disappointed to hear this news - and indeed the staff who work there - which is a testament to the continued excellent care and support provided by those staff.

“We are committed to working with them to find suitable, alternative provision for their child care needs.”

NHCC said the nursery was running at around only 40pc capacity, and despite having to increase its costs recently and opening places up to non NHS staff, it was running at a loss.

Although the current service is safe, improvements and investments would need to be made to improve the premises - a portable cabin based in the busy hospital car park - and moving the nursery to another building on another site may have been necessary.

Mangers met face to face with staff last week and letters have been issued to parents to inform them of the board’s decision and to invite them to discuss the next steps at a meeting next month.

Is your nursery fighting to stay open? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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