WORK to repair and re-open Castleberg Hospital is nearing completion, with its re-opening anticipated later this autumn.

The hospital’s future has been a cause of concern over the years and was the subject of widespread consultation in 2018, when many local people, groups and organisations got involved to tell the NHS their views.

NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) subsequently approved plans to re-open the hospital, subject to major work to repair the building by its owner, NHS Property Services, to return it to the expected standards to support healthcare provision.

A CCG spokesman said: “Following some unavoidable delays – partly due to the discovery and removal of asbestos, as well as nesting birds in the boiler house roof – work by the contractors is due for completion soon.

“When it re-opens, the hospital will continue to have 10 intermediate care beds, providing bed-based intermediate care, otherwise known as ‘step-up and step-down’ care.

“These beds will allow for short periods of assessment and rehabilitation to enable people to return home.

“It will also provide short-term nursing care, pain relief and support for some people as they near the end of their life.

“The teams providing care and support will include returning and new staff, all of whom are looking forward to providing a friendly, caring and quality service for Craven residents.”

The decision made last May to keep the hospital open was welcomed by Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith.

He said: “I am pleased the governing body made the decision to keep the hospital open.

“This reflects the feeling of many of the constituents who have contacted me and I am delighted that I was able to represent their views in conversations and meetings with the CCG.

“I pay tribute to the many residents and community groups who engaged so fully with the consultation process.”

Dr James Thomas, GP and clinical chairman at NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG added: “The governing body carefully considered the views expressed in the public consultation, the rural geography of the local area, the safety of patients, the high quality of care required and the recommendation of the CCG’s Clinical Executive Group.

“The decision was taken to support the recommendation of the CCG’s Clinical Executive Group which was to continue to provide inpatient care in the community and repair and restore Castleberg Hospital but in a redesigned way that will be determined with the involvement of the local community.”

He added: “This is an exciting opportunity that will see services evolve from what has gone before, moving towards a more holistic approach that will care for both the physical and mental wellbeing of the community.

“The future model of care that will be provided throughout Craven will aim to integrate services closer to patients’ homes and will include Castleberg Hospital acting as a community-based facility, with the option to provide a broader range of support services.”

The CCG says the date when the hospital is to be re-opened will be announced nearer the time.