Centralised GP centre gets go-ahead

A MAJOR new health centre merging four GP surgeries in north Essex will go-ahead despite fears patient cover in more remote areas will suffer, it was confirmed last night .

By Roddy Ashworth

A MAJOR new health centre merging four GP surgeries in north Essex will go-ahead despite fears patient cover in more remote areas will suffer, it was confirmed last night .

More than 22,000 patients will be affected by the plans to merge the four GP practices in Great Clacton and Holland-on-Sea.

Tendring Primary Care Trust chiefs backed the proposals yesterday after a seven-month consultation – insisting they hoped to meet campaigners' concerns through a compromise.


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However, those against the new centre said they still felt let down by the decision and accused the trust of providing part-time health cover for some residents.

The PCT is currently looking to build a centre in Kennedy Way, off Valley Road, in Great Clacton.

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But the move has provoked concern from those living furthest away from it because of transport problems patients could face in trying to see their GP.

Yesterday the PCT attempted a compromise by allowing some more localised services to be maintained.

Called "outline consultation facilities" these would probably be nurse-led operations in both Great Clacton and Holland-on-Sea, with GPs attending for perhaps a day a week.

However, Vickie Williams of local watchdog the Tendring Health Action Group, said: "It does not sound to me like there will be 24-hour cover. I am just against centralisation.

"A super-duper facility is lovely, but people should have access to their doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can't tell your body when to be ill.

"I am worried particularly about the disabled. Will there be transport provided? Both Clacton and Harwich hospitals shut at 5pm.

"I think this will extra strain on the ambulance service and on Colchester General Hospital."

However a spokesman for the PCT said: "The board has agreed to proceed with a purpose-built, state-of-the-art primary healthcare centre and two outline consultation facilities.

"This decision was taken after listening to residents' views and hopefully reaching a compromise in which everybody will be happy.

"The proposed location for the new centre at the moment is Kennedy Way, but that is not set in stone.

"Once we have chosen our preferred private sector partner, we will ask them to look at the area again to see if they can come up with a more suitable site."

Last night Paul Unsworth, chief executive of the PCT, said: "This decision is great news for local GPs and their patients and will result in 21st century healthcare facilities being locally available to residents of Great Clacton and Holland-on-Sea.

"We are committed to continuing to work with GPs and patients to ensure we address any remaining concerns they may have."

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