Health centre site welcomed

COMMUNITY leaders are “delighted” with the decision reached by a health trust over the location of a new west Suffolk health centre.

NHS Suffolk has announced that the Church Field Road site, in Chilton, has been chosen following discussions with community representatives.

For many years campaigners had backed this site for the new facility rather than the Walnuttree Hospital site, in Sudbury.

Mark Marshall, NHS Suffolk head of corporate development and infrastructure, said: “The site is close to the proposed Chilton Woods development, maximising access to this important centre for as many people as possible.

“Also, because the site is already owned by the NHS, the project should progress much more quickly.”

Chilton Parish Council chairman Peter Clifford, who is also chairman of WATCH (Working and Acting Together for a Community Hospital), said the decision was “good news” for the town.

“We are pleased with the decision. We think it’s in the right place. WATCH thought it was the right place in 2004,” he said.

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“It is very near to roundabouts and also the north bypass that goes towards Melford and Bury and most of the future development in Sudbury is likely to be towards the north-east.”

He added: “We need to move forward with this now. It’s been dragging on for 30 years. We need to get the building under way.”

Sudbury town councillor Sylvia Byham, a founding member of WATCH, said it had taken a “tremendous effort” to achieve the preferred site. “I’m absolutely delighted. I’m delighted they have finally chosen the site,” she said.

The new health centre – due to be completed in mid 2013 – will have day and treatment services, outpatients clinics and rehabilitation services.

A spokesman for NHS Suffolk said beds would remain at Walnuttree Hospital until a community care model was in place.

Mr Clifford said there were due to be eight residential beds and four nursing home beds in a private residential/nursing home.

WATCH was originally set up to achieve a new community hospital with NHS beds, but Mr Clifford said the move towards an intermediate care model meant people were being looked after in their own homes as much as possible.