Birthing centre lined up for town

A BIRTHING centre may now form part of a proposed major new "one-stop shop" at Saxmundham. The Saxmundham Health Group GPs, who are outgrowing their present site at Lambsale Meadow, are seeking the green light for a complex which would house a range of services for the area.

By Sarah Chambers

A BIRTHING centre may now form part of a proposed major new "one-stop shop" at Saxmundham.

The Saxmundham Health Group GPs, who are outgrowing their present site at Lambsale Meadow, are seeking the green light for a complex which would house a range of services for the area.

The proposals have been welcomed by a campaigning group for mothers-to-be and by Suffolk County Council's social care services, which will form part of the range of facilities provided.


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Suffolk Coastal district councillors gave the green light to outline proposals for the facility – proposed for a site along the old A12 north of the town – earlier this year.

But permission is needed again as the new proposed site is 0.6 acres larger to allow bus access.

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Dr John Havard, a partner at the surgery, said over the last nine months "extensive and detailed" consultation had taken place with those likely to make up the one stop shop.

The proposed new building is modern and designed to make the most of natural light. It is set to include a glazed "street" with a café, dentist's, optician's and general practice opening off it.

Plans include a day nursery/crèche offering 40 childcare places, with NHS and social care staff having first call.

It is also hoped that funding can be secured for a birthing centre above the proposed ambulance station, both of which would offer round-the-clock services.

"Integration of health and social care is a modern patient focus that will be embraced by this new facility. Although it is a Government preferred model, it needs local support as well," said Dr Havard.

"We certainly feel that all the health-related services are far more sensibly grouped together."

He described the design as "cutting edge".

Dan Gaul, head of business and facilities at Suffolk County Council's social care services department, described it as "an early example for Suffolk of progress towards integrated services for the community".

"The staff that will be based there will be providing services for all ages of the community from family support, to people with learning disabilities, to people supporting older people in their own homes.

"I think the fact that it's linked to health will mean communication and integration of services will be improved."

Babies And Birthing In East Suffolk, a lobbying group calling for a birthing centre in the area, is currently collating the results of a survey to find out whether there was demand for such a service. It said the overwhelming response had been in favour.

Stella Robbins, chairman of BABIES, said: "It would be fantastic and it would all just work very well, because everything is on hand there. I don't think it could be better sited really. I really do think it's an ideal opportunity."

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