A GROUP of residents, including numerous former NHS workers, have voiced their anger over plans to close a community hospital, ahead of a public meeting.

The event to discuss the future of the Lambert Memorial Hospital, in Thirsk, comes as Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group is urging people to express their views on alternative places to treat patients.

The CCG’s preferred option is to treat for patients who have suffered strokes or needing palliative care in numerous local settings, such as extra care supported housing schemes.

It has stated at a time of pressure on NHS finances, the cost of a community hospital inpatient stay is around £229 a day, while the cost of a step-up step-down bed stay averages at £142 a day.

Former Thirsk physiotherapist Ann Goodall said she hoped the CCG, which had agreed to attend the meeting on Thursday, August 25, from 6pm to 7.30pm, would listen to the views of people who are paying their wages.

While Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake and North Yorkshire and Hambleton councils have expressed concerns over the plans, many residents believe the building should be retained as a community health facility, whether it be a base for an organisation such as Herriot Hospice Homecare or community nurses.

Others say it is vital to revive the services the hospital provided before being closed due to staffing shortages last September, particularly as there is no alternative hospice service between Darlington and Harrogate.

Long-serving secretary of the Lambert League of Friends and retired health visitor Liz Waller said the CCG’s reasons for wanting to close the hospital did not add up.

She added: “This is a step far too far. The need for that place for people in the Thirsk area is tremendous.

“People are not going to get the 24-hour care they need. I think it should be used as a rehabilitation unit with beds for palliative care.”

Other long-serving Thirsk NHS staff say they have been left aghast by attempts to find staff to run the hospital and have claimed months have gone by without a free advert being published on the NHS jobs website.

Former Thirsk and Ripon solicitor Michael Armstrong said the CCG should not underestimate how prized the hospital was by the community, and that he had made “innumerable” wills where people left legacies to the Lambert League of Friends in recognition of its services.