Health village plans to be unveiled

DETAILED plans for a new multi-million pound “health village” development in a Suffolk town are due to be unveiled in the near future.

David Green

DETAILED plans for a new multi-million pound “health village” development in a Suffolk town are due to be unveiled in the near future.

NHS Suffolk and the East of England Strategic Health Authority are on course to approve the plans - for the Hartismere Hospital site at Eye - in January 2009. A development “partner” is due to be appointed soon after.

Now a one-day event is being organised to tell local people about the progress being made and show them how the new development may look.

NHS Suffolk plans to close the geriatric in-patient facility at Hartismere Hospital and focus on a “care in the community” strategy caused a storm of controversy three years ago with heated local opposition.

However, a mood of acceptance has pervaded the area as more detailed plans have emerged to retain and increase out-patient clinics and set up a community health team.

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The plan is to regenerate the site, possibly with the help of land sales for new homes, with the development of a private care home - with some beds contracted by the NHS.

The Eye Locality and Implementation Group - a community group set up to help bring the plans to fruition - was recently given an update on the business case for the regeneration of the site.

During the meeting, the group agreed that a public event should be held in Eye to give people the chance to see the progress being made on plans for the site along with drawings of how the health facility may look.

Project team leaders from NHS Suffolk, the county's Primary Care Trust, also told the group that good progress had been made in many areas, such as the appointment of architects to develop “concept drawings” for the site and continuing positive discussions with the local GP practice.

Representatives from EC Harris, the company drafting the business case for the site, talked about the process they were following and confirmed the timescales for the delivery and approval of their work.

NHS Suffolk has also agreed to start working with the Suffolk Association of Local Councils to plan the local community liaison day for September or October.

Elizabeth Gibson-Harries, Eye Locality and Implementation Group chairman, said: “I am very pleased that we can be so confident around the progress to date and that we are in a position where we will be able to publicly share this information with the local community in the near future.

“It is important to the group that the local community can hear and see what plans are being developed for this important local site.”