£18million health centre boost

PATIENTS and healthcare staff in Colchester were have reason to celebrate this week, after the go-ahead was given for a new £18million health centre.Colchester Borough Council approved plans for a state-of-the-art primary care centre on land adjacent to the general hospital, at a planning committee meeting on Thursdaynight.

PATIENTS and healthcare staff in Colchester were have reason to celebrate this week, after the go-ahead was given for a new £18million health centre.

Colchester Borough Council approved plans for a state-of-the-art primary care centre on land adjacent to the general hospital, at a planning committee meeting on Thursdaynight.

The project is still subject to Essex Strategic Health Authority's final approval, which is expected at their next board meeting on March 31. Construction is scheduled to begin in June, with completion scheduled for November 2005.

Plans for the three-storey building were devised by Colchester Primary Care Trust and its private sector partner, Mill Group. Members of the public have already had the chance to comment.


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A government initiative to improve primary and community services, known as the NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) has made the health centre possible.

Both Colchester and Tendring's Primary Care Trusts are working on a LIFT initiative to update and improve many more primary and community care facilities in the area. Just last week, a new Dovercourthealth centre and Harwich Hospital were both given planning permission.

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Sue O'Connell, NHS LIFT project director, said after the planning meeting: "NHS LIFT has given us an unprecedented opportunity to invest heavily in health care facilities.

"This will result in substantial improvements for patients, the public and also for the staff who work in them.

"We are hoping to gain full planning permission shortly for a new health and community centre at Highwoodswhich will be bigger and better than the Bluebell Resource Centre, which it is being designed to replace.

"In Colchester alone, we have plans for about a dozen developments which include new GP and community facilities in Wivenhoe, Tiptree and Mersea Island," she added.

The centre will provide for a 20-station renal dialysis unit, the first of its kind in North East Essex, saving patients from travelling as far as London and Cambridge for treatment.

A chronic disease management centre will also enable long-term conditions such as arthritis, asthma and diabetes, to be treated in the community, without taking up hospital beds.

And other facilities will provide for specialist dentistry, chiropody, diagnostic testing and a child development centre. Some are presently provided at the general hospital, some at a 1960s office block in the town. Family consultation services, a pushchair park and café will also be on site.

nColchester councillors have given outline planning permission for a residential development, a primary school and public open space on land at the Turner Village Hospital site in Turner Road, Colchester. Once the land is sold by the Secretary of State for Health, the scheme will provide up to 467 homes as part of the Cuckoo Farm regeneration of north Colchester.

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