Councillors to meet over health fears

A MID-ESSEX town is to hold an extraordinary public meeting tonight to discuss concerns that residents' healthcare needs are being ignored.

Elliot Furniss

A MID-ESSEX town is to hold an extraordinary public meeting tonight to discuss concerns that residents' healthcare needs are being ignored.

Councillors from Witham feel they are a “poor relation” compared to nearby Maldon, Chelmsford and Braintree - where the local primary care trust (PCT) is seeking to locate new services.

Michael Lager, the chairman of the town council's resources committee, said although there were plans by Mid-Essex PCT to create a new 24-hour healthcare centre in the area, access would be the main issue for Witham residents.


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“What we are concerned about is the particular aspect of where are they going to put this thing,” he said.

He said it had been suggested earlier in the year that the centre be built in north Chelmsford - possibly Broomfield - but that would leave people living in Witham with a difficult journey for much-needed services.

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Mr Lager said the town council believed Witham needed better access to out-patient clinics, either in the town itself or with improved access to Broomfield, and that it also needs a minor injuries unit in the town.

He added: “The benefit of this [the new centre] to Witham people is going to be very minimal - if they notice it at all. We do feel its something that sells Witham short. There's no public transport (to Broomfield) and it's a long and expensive journey.”

The trust's proposals for a 24-hour healthcare centre will be discussed at a public meeting held today by the town council and Mr Lager extended an invitation to the PCT to send a representative.

He added: “I don't think it's down to us to recommend solutions, but the feeling is that they're not really listening.

“We need access to healthcare in Witham and this won't really provide the out-of-hours services they're suggesting.”

A spokesman for the trust said it was currently undertaking a major review of health services in Witham and had put together some “quite detailed plans” for the future.

“We're happy to come along to the meeting to discuss the issues with councillors,” he said.

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