A meeting on the plans to merge Kensington and Maitland day hospitals was held in the Maitland town hall on Tuesday.Dr Katryn Grammer, district director of the provincial health department, said at the meeting the engagement with the public was aimed at informing residents about the plans the department had for the development of health facilities and analysing the proposed site for the new hospital. She said though the budget and plan were available, it was difficult for the department to finalise the process and start with implementation because there was not a confirmed site yet. “We only have one site that we are currently looking at and we are open to ideas from the communities. The sooner we reach an agreement about the site, the better because the longer we take to agree on a site the lower it is on the prioritisation schedule,” said Grammer.She said the start of construction depended on the availability of the site. Once an agreement had been reached it would take up to three years for the whole process of planning.According to her, the available site was on Royal Road near Maitland Secondary School. Negotiations with the affected stakeholder of erf 13304 were expected to be undertaken to assess the suitability of this place. She said the department was working with engineers who were responsible for evaluations and assessment of the site.Grammer said they wanted to improve the quality of health services provided at the two affected day hospitals by providing a one-stop shop facility. She said the current hospitals were very small and no longer served the needs of the community. She said the department had noticed the growing need for specialists but there was no space to accommodate them. They also saw a need to create a technology-friendly environment that was going to fit in with the changing times.Graham Nevin, the project engineer, added that the site should be a minimum of 8000m2 and a maximum of 12 347m2 and the issues of environmental and topography risks should be considered. It should also be less than 10km away from amenities. Residents at the meeting responded positively to the hospital development, saying it would improve the status of healthcare, confidentiality and safety at the hospital which was much-needed by the community.Bienie Gamie, chairperson of the ratepayers’ association, said: “This is a need for the community; it is time we move with the changing times and see this as a great development.”Attendees raised their concern about the informal settlement at the identified site and traffic issues on Royal Road. In response, Grammer said talks with stakeholders would take place once agreement had been reached on the proposal.