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Haverhill: Fury over health centre application

10:00 13 November 2012

The Crown Health Centre in Haverhill.

The Crown Health Centre in Haverhill.

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A HEALTH body has been accused of being “disingenuous” after applying for permission to use a walk-in centre it closed more than three months ago.

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The temporary ‘pods’ that consitute Crown Health Care site in Withersfield Road, Haverhill, were shut in July this year by NHS Suffolk who said they could not find a permanent site.

Councillors said they urged the PCT to delay the closure to allow residents to be educated on how to access health care locally, but were told by health bosses that planning permission for the structure could not be extended beyond December 4.

However, NHS Suffolk has now applied to use the centre into March next year as the temporary site for some services from Haverhill Health Clinic in Camps Road while it is refurbished. Haverhill Town Council is planning to write a “strongly-worded statement” to the PCT about this.

Town clerk, Will Austin, said: “The thing we want to discuss is why – having announced the closure of the Crown Health site on the basis that there would be no extension to planning permission – is the PCT now asking for an extension of planning permission?”

“Our point was that, not that it should not close the site, but that it should not have done it so quickly.

“We needed to make sure that people understood how to get health care. But it said this could not be done because it could not get planning permission. This now seems not to be true.”

Mr Austin, who said a health group had been set up by the authority to discuss the provision of health care in the town, added: “We are absolutely spitting blood about this application, not because it is not the right thing to do, they need to relocate somewhere, but they could have done that at the walk-in centre.

“It would have given them more time for planned closure and to work with people on how they can get urgent health care.”

Councillor Bryan Hawes, of North Ward, said: “We are thinking that the PCT has been a bit disingenuous. I just wish they had been upfront about this in the first place.”

Mr Hawes said he felt that Haverhill was often overlooked when it came to investments into health care with smaller towns such as Sudbury benefiting from more modern health centres.

But a NHS spokesman said: “Haverhill Health Clinic which houses physiotherapy, podiatry clinics, health visitors and district nurse services, needs to be refurbished for safety reasons.

“The application for planning permission means some staff and patient services from the Haverhill Health Clinic can be temporarily relocated for a limited period of three months to the former Crown Health Clinic pods.

“Without this permission, the refurbishment work would take longer and cause greater disruption and inconvenience to patients and staff.”

He added: “This relocation of some staff and services is for the very short term.

“Planning permission for the permanent siting of the pods would not have been granted by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, a situation the authority made clear to NHS Suffolk.”

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