Shop is a suitable place for treatment

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The Independent Online
IN THE latest demonstration of the entrepreneurial spirit sweeping the National Health Service, a town centre newsagent's shop has been converted into Britain's smallest hospital, writes Judy Jones.

Tetbury Hospital in Gloucestershire has transferred its outpatient clinics and physiotherapy and casualty departments - lock, stock and stethoscope - to No 9 Market Place, formerly Frank Hill's paper shop. What it lacks in beds it makes up for in convenience; the Post Office, the Indian restaurant, the ladies' hairdressing salon and an accountant's office are all near by.

Patients were invited to use the makeshift arrangements this week after Tetbury's 17-bed community hospital, serving a population of about 10,000, was closed temporarily for refurbishment, and in-patients transferred to the Stroud district hospital. Apart from the waiting-cum-reception area, there are two other rooms, for clinical treatment and for physiotherapy. Up to 15 outpatients have been seen each day this week.

'It's not terribly sophisticated and it does get a bit crowded,' Bill Wragge, the hospital manager, said. 'But the patients seem to be taking it in their stride, and it does help to keep the waiting lists down. Tetbury's quite an isolated little community and a lot of people don't have cars . . . many people would be stumped if we did not keep services going here.'

Local fund-raisers are more than half-way towards their pounds 870,000 target for taking over the running of the community hospital, half a mile out of the town centre, from the Gloucestershire District Health Authority next April.