Hospital explains decision to move charity shop out of foyer

League of Friends volunteers Lisa Taber and Linda Mallett with a petition to stop the closeure of th

League of Friends volunteers Lisa Taber and Linda Mallett with a petition to stop the closeure of the charity shop based at the James Paget University Hospital.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A hospital criticised for moving its charity shop out of the foyer has shared details of the opportunity its decision has created.

The James Paget University Hospital has written to its League of Friends explaining the need for the space currently operated as the charity shop.

The letter offered the Friends an alternative location on the site, but said the current shop would need to be vacated to make way for a new commercial development in the foyer.

It is planned the store will provide a range of fresh hot and cold food and sell other items such as toiletries, while offering patients, their families, visitors and staff modern, what the hospital calls fresh, facilities including a ‘barista’ style coffee shop and a brand new seating area.

Nichola Hicks, head of facilities management at the hospital, said: “This is an exciting project which will benefit patients, visitors, staff and our organisation.

“For patients, visitors and staff, there will be increased choice including freshly cooked hot meals, which will continue to be prepared in-house by our on-site catering team and served in a restaurant that will be open to all.

“At the same time, the new facility will provide the hospital with a source of income, which will support patient care.”

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The facility will come at no cost to the hospital trust, and while the hospital has not directly confirmed this, it is believed M&S will be the retailer behind the scheme.

Construction of the new facility is likely to take place over a six week period in the summer, with the Friends told they have until April 30 to vacate their location, a hatch in the foyer.

The Friends are made up of around 26 volunteers, who have been selling gifts in the foyer for more than 20 years - raising almost £2m in the process.

Val Dray, manager of the League of Friends shop said: “I do think the foyer is in need of a spruce up - it hasn’t changed since the hospital opened, but we are upset we have been asked to move.”

Changes are also being made to the hospital’s Aubergine Restaurant, which will see it open to both the public and staff members. These changes are being put into place this month.