Hospital opens to new patients after £19m refit
COSSHAM Hospital has welcomed its first patients following a £19 mil- lion refurbishment.
The Kingswood hospital – which was threatened with closure in 2004 – had been closed to patients for almost two years while works were carried out on the 105-year-old building.
Thousands of people campaigned to save the Lodge Road hospital and about 500 attending marches as they fought to save it.
Now the hospital has been restored and updated to meet the needs of modern healthcare.
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It houses Bristol's first standalone midwife-led birth centre where about 500 women a year with straightforward pregnancies can give birth in more comfortable surroundings as well as physiotherapy and outpatient appointments, including audiology.
Now that the refurbishment has been completed and new clinics have moved to Cossham there is the capacity for about 25,000 appointments compared to 9,000 prior to the project.
Angela Gibbs of Cadbury Heath, who cares for her mum, was among the first patients to attend an appointment in the hospital after it opened yesterday.
The 50-year-old was at Cossham for a dermatology appointment. She said: "When I called for an appointment on Friday I was offered the chance to go to Frenchay or come here, but this is closer.
"It's lovely, when I came through the door it looked so bright. There's a lovely big waiting room, it's great.
"My mum's disabled so she will be coming here to see her specialist as well as it will be much easier to bring her here."
Iando Evans, 63, of Fishponds, attended the refurbished hospital for his hearing aids.
The builder said: "They have done a good job. It was so old-fashioned before but the inside now is looking all modern."
Ron Tippett, chairman of Cossham League of Friends was joined by Graham Kennedy chairman of the Cossham Hospital Group, formerly the Save Cossham Hospital Group to celebrate the opening with staff. Angela Hancock, a relative of MP and businessman Handel Cossham, who bequeathed the hospital to the people of Kingswood, also attended for the opening.
Mrs Hancock, of Winterbourne, said: "I am amazed that it is so nice and as good as it is. It is so nice that they have kept the original features and that it is all so light and airy. And the views must be therapeutic.
"When I first visited a few weeks ago I couldn't wait to get home and tell all my family."
Mrs Hancock, 70, said that as children her family had always known of the connection with Cossham Hospital but they were "fired up" when talk of closure came up.
"Saving it was all down to Graham and John Lord and I am just so pleased with it, all our family is.
"The bust of Handel Cossham is wonderful, it looks just like one of my cousins, and like my father did."
Mr Kennedy, of Downend, said: "It feels brilliant to see this place open. I feel very pleased for all the people in Kingswood who campaigned. I would like to think now that a lot of those people will be able to come here and see this.
"We had about 400 to 500 people on the marches. I am pleased we did it, the satisfaction is brilliant.
"It has got the character of the building and Cossham but inside is just like it will be in the new Southmead. And it still has the atmosphere that was here before it was refurbished."
Mr Tippett, of Kingswood, has been involved with the League of Friends since 1969.
He said: "It's marvellous, incredible. I never really thought this was going to happen."
A dialysis centre was opened in the hospital grounds in October to save people in the area making the journey to Southmead Hospital for the treatment to carry out the functions of the kidneys.
There is also x-ray, ultrasound, MRI and CT scanning at Cossham, which will be able to carry out about 43,000 scans and images compared to 29,000 at the hospital before.
It is estimated that there will be about 30,000 physiotherapy appointments.
In podiatry, which was not available before, it has been estimated that there will be between 3,000 and 4,000 appointments a year.