Health centre project in jeopardy

CAMPAIGNERS voiced their concern last night after it emerged a long-awaited healthcare centre may never be built.Thousands of patients in Great Clacton and Holland on Sea had been told their doctors' surgeries were like something “out of the dark ages” and would be replaced by a multi-million pound facility.

CAMPAIGNERS voiced their concern last night after it emerged a long-awaited healthcare centre may never be built.

Thousands of patients in Great Clacton and Holland on Sea had been told their doctors' surgeries were like something “out of the dark ages” and would be replaced by a multi-million pound facility.

But the recent merger of Tendring into the new North East Essex Primary Care Trust cast doubts about whether the funding would still be available.

And residents' fears were confirmed last night when bosses confirmed the proposed health centre in Kennedy Way, Clacton, was now under scrutiny.

Kennedy Way should have been opening its doors in 2008 with state-of-the-art facilities capable of dealing with more than 20,000 patients.

The news came as a blow to campaigners, who had initially fought against the closure of their out-dated surgeries.

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Hugh Morrison, chairman of Residents Action Group (RAG), said people felt let-down because the old Tendring PCT had balanced books when it was merged.

He said: “Where do we go from here? We were told we would be having a new health centre and, because of that, the surgeries have been put on hold.

“If it does not go ahead, would the PCT then be prepared to update the surgeries? It is all up in the air.

“I think they have a black hole in their finances which needs plugging and the only way they can do that is by halting the spending on the centre.

“It looks as though Tendring is going to be the poor relation again - we have one the highest levels of old people in the country and whatever happened to all the promises made about Kennedy Way? We were always told our surgeries were not fit for the 21st Century.”

Four GP practices in Holland on Sea and Great Clacton were due to make way for the new facility.

Health bosses issued a statement last night saying: “The new North East Essex PCT has invited financial experts to review a number of health developments which have either been finalised or are currently at the planning stage.

“As part of the review a number of projects in the Colchester and Tendring areas, known as LIFT developments, will be scrutinised. This includes Kennedy Way.

“The review will include a post project evaluation (PPE) of the primary care centre in Colchester and of the Harwich hospital development. The evaluation will trace the developments from start to finish and will include an opinion on their value for money.

“The review is being carried out to ensure the people of North East Essex receive the most cost effective and high quality health services from these and any future developments.

“The intention of the PPE is to provide advice and guidance to the new PCT on how best to take forward the four future LIFT developments that are currently being planned.

“It is hoped that the final evaluation will be reported to the PCT Board in January and lessons learned from the first two projects will be used to shape the implementation of the remaining schemes.”