HEALTH bosses were forced to discuss how Chippenham hospital was going to fit into the planned health service shake-up plans in front of the public at a council meeting this evening after councillors voted unanimously against holding a closed session.

Chippenham Town councillors voted against the closed doors proposal following the professional advice of chief executive Mark Smith after the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group confirmed they had no new information to share. 

Former town councillor Chris Caswill also urged councillors not to be ‘seduced’ by the ability to go into a closed session during public participation.

Despite visiting Chippenham Hospital earlier this week, members of the CCG were unable to say where the hospital fitted into the strategic plan of having one large hospital with multiple services, one smaller hospital and three urgent care centres in the county.

Instead they confirmed that a number of the buildings on the Chippenham site were not in great shape and that they recognised that the population of Chippenham would place a strain on services if the hospital was moved elsewhere.

“We don’t have any definitive plans yet,” Linda Prosser of the CCG said. “We recognise that there is a great deal of variability of the quality of buildings within the Chippenham site but we don’t yet know what that means for the site.

“There is no hidden agenda here and we have not yet made any decisions. We just want to take a long hard look at the services in the county.”

“I can’t see why the situation in Chippenham would change,” Steve Perkins of the CCG, added. “The population in Chippenham is the biggest in North Wiltshire and it is ridiculous to think that at strategic plan would reduce those services here."

Questions about transport links to services in Wiltshire under the new plans were also asked, as well as the financing of the project and the importance of having a consultation with NHS staff members.

Although the CCG reiterated that the proposals were not set in stone, they agreed that dialogue with local councils and stakeholders were important, and that they hoped to be as transparent as possible in the future.

“We really welcome this conversation and we will be working to find out what people think in different ways,” Sarah MacLennan added. “We really feel like we are on the cup of something. There are lots of technology and digital elements that fall into our hands and as a result we have something potentially very exciting to offer Wiltshire but we don’t know what that is yet.”

Speaking on behalf of the council, Councillor Sandie Webb concluded: “It has been a very good discussion and I would like to echo Councillor Hutton’s comments about providing meaningful evidence.

“I believe the full council is in one voice; that we want to help you further on something which is good for the town and we are here whenever you need it.”

Plans for the health hubs are unlikely to be available until summer 2018.