Health trust announces new HQ site

By Aynsley DavidsonA HEALTH trust announced last night its new headquarters would be based in Beccles in what was hailed as a major boost for the town.

By Aynsley Davidson

A HEALTH trust announced last night its new headquarters would be based in Beccles in what was hailed as a major boost for the town.

Waveney Primary Care Trust is to transfer up to 100 staff onto the site of the former Gales garage and car showroom in Common Lane North, Beccles, near the Safeway store early next year.

The plan to create a new headquarters and training centre was welcomed as “a significant boost for Beccles” by the town's mayor, Jack Walmsley, who is also a non-executive director of the trust.

The staff who will be transferred are currently based at four locations - Regent Road, Police Station Road and the northern wing of Lowestoft Hospital, all in Lowestoft, and at Beccles Hospital.

Waveney Primary Care Trust chief executive, Andy Evans, said having its staff dispersed across four sites was a barrier to efficient, effective working and good communications.

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”Staff numbers have risen significantly since the primary care trust was created in April 2002, which has been in line with our ever-increasing responsibilities,” he added.

“In addition, we are now working more closely than ever before with our partner organisations, such as Social Care, and need to have joint facilities with them to provide patient-sensitive services, which adds to the pressure on space.

“We also want to improve working conditions for staff. All our current office space is of poor quality and staff have to work without up-to-date facilities.”

Mr Evans said the trust had chosen the Common Lane site - which it will be leasing - for its headquarters from a shortlist of three.

“It is in the centre of the primary care trust area and more accessible from all parts of Waveney, as well as providing us with facilities which will support us to improve the services we provide, “ he added.

Mr Walmsley said the announcement was good news for the town and added: “Having up to 100 people working at a site which has been vacant for a number of years will be a significant boost for Beccles.

“I am confident that the staff who will be transferring there will make a positive contribution to the town's economy.”

Space is at such a premium at the primary care trust's offices that it often has to spend money on hiring rooms at hotels and other external venues for staff training and important meetings.

In addition, the trust has to pay rent for its staff based at Police Station Road and Lowestoft Hospital, although it owns the Regent Road site and Beccles Hospital.

Mr Evans said the trust would be making a significant investment to upgrade the facilities at the former garage/showroom and the site owner would also be contributing.

The work is due to start in November or December and the first staff are due to move in after Christmas.

Mr Evans said the trust did not plan to sell its Regent Road site and was considering a number of future health care options for it.

Waveney Primary Care Trust serves the 123,500 patients registered at the 15 GP practices in Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Kessingland, Lowestoft and Southwold.

It works closely with the 70 GPs in the area, runs the community hospitals in Beccles, Halesworth and Southwold, and provides services such as district nurses, health visitors and school nurses.

It also uses its budget to buy services for the people of Waveney from other health care providers, such as the James Paget Healthcare Trust and the Norfolk & Waveney Mental Health Partnership Trust.