TALKS are being held to turn a former community hospital into a desperately needed hospice for the Hambleton District.

Residents in Thirsk were devastated when the Lambert Memorial Hospital which was gifted to the community of the area 100 years ago was closed by South Tees NHS Trust three years ago. They said that they could not get enough staff to run the building.

Eventually Hambleton District Council bought the hospital building for £350,000 after the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stepped in following concerns it was to be sold privately through the NHS.

After a major consultation carried out by Hambleton District Council over 600 people have put forward suggestions mostly that the hospital should be used for palliative care and end of life care with many specifying that it should be run in conjunction with local group Herriot Hospice Homecare. A covenant on the building will not allow it to be used as a pharmacy or doctors surgery.

Council leader Mark Robson said talks are ongoing and they hope to bring forward a report on the feasibility of running the site as a hospice in September.

"Local people are passionate about keeping the Lambert for community use, and so are we. We are now working to bring this important building back into use. We are in talks with Herriot Hospice, looking at how a hospice might work in this space, this is something we need not just for the town but for the district as a whole," he said.