In the late 1990s, changes in policy and funding priorities threatened in-patient care at Cranleigh Village Hospital.
In response to the community’s concerns and acknowledging the need to maintain in-patient beds in Cranleigh, Cranleigh Village Health Trust (CVHT) was formed in 2001. Its focus has always been to preserve the long tradition of in-patient care in the village.
The decision to close the 14 beds permanently was taken in January 2010 and brought to an end the 150-year history of in-patient care at the Hospital.
The CVHT campaign received an early, significant boost when a local benefactor generously offered a plot of land to Cranleigh Parish Council for the provision of local sports facilities in exchange for a smaller Council-owned site close to the heart of the village. Consequently, CVHT was able to acquire its Knowle Lane site.
In 2002, the initial plans for the new site included both a hospital and a replacement GP surgery. The NHS supported this concept, and subsequent detailed planning permission for this new facility was granted in March 2006.
In May 2006, the NHS closed all the beds at Cranleigh Village Hospital ‘for urgent, temporary financial reasons’. The former local Primary Care Trust (PCT) then undertook a consultation process, resulting in the decision to adopt a model of care which did not require the provision of in-patient beds at Cranleigh Village Hospital.
Having tried to engage the PCT in a mediation process to discuss the closure, the Trustees sought professional advice to establish whether the decision should be challenged on legal grounds. CVHT was advised that there was a case to answer and subsequently, the Trust instigated a Judicial Review of the PCT’s decision, with the assistance of a pro bono solicitor. Consequently, formal mediation discussions between CVHT and the PCT took place in June 2010, and a way forward was agreed.
The PCT undertook to look again at the redevelopment of the Health Centre site (leading to the creation of new premises for the Cranleigh Medical Practice) and, subject to value for money and affordability, the PCT agreed to commission in-patient services but stipulated that this would only be viable in a new health facility.
CVHT was advised by the PCT that, to comply with Government policy and to meet the needs of the NHS commissioners, the community beds should be in a nursing home setting.
CVHT undertook a consultation, bringing together all the key organisations responsible for providing healthcare services in Cranleigh and the surrounding villages. This consultation led to the creation of a Stakeholder Group and, following extensive discussions, it was agreed that 20 community beds should be provided in a dedicated wing of a new care home which would be built on CVHT’s Knowle Lane site. A care home operator would be required, and on the recommendation of RSCH, CVHT approached leading care home provider, HC-One.
In 2017, a Heads of Terms Agreement was signed with HC-One to return in-patient care to Cranleigh through the provision of 20 community beds within a new care home for the village.
In November 2018, CVHT submitted its proposed plans for the development of a new Care Home on its Knowle Lane site, which will include 20 community beds for both NHS and SCC nursing care, prioritised for patients from Cranleigh and the surrounding villages. These 20 community beds are designed to replace the 14 beds in Cranleigh Village Hospital that were closed in 2006.
The project will also create affordable accommodation for healthcare workers employed locally, with 26 affordable units made available to anyone working in healthcare locally.
The planning application was heard by Waverley Borough Council in November 2019, who refused the application on technical planning grounds.
In June 2020, CVHT submitted a new planning application to secure the return of Community Beds in Cranleigh.
The new application is for a 64-bed care home on CVHT’s Knowle Lane site, including 16 Community Beds and a building providing 14 apartments for local health keyworkers.
CVHT is also pursuing an Appeal on the refusal decision from November 2019, following professional advice that the refusal decision was based on very weak planning grounds and that it should be challenged.