Major blow for health centre plan

By Jonathan BarnesHOPES of securing extra funding for a town's proposed one-stop health shop have been dealt a major blow. Senior clinicians and financial experts have recommended that no extra money is allocated to develop the project in Saxmundham, which would combine health and social care services in the town.

By Jonathan Barnes

HOPES of securing extra funding for a town's proposed one-stop health shop have been dealt a major blow.

Senior clinicians and financial experts have recommended that no extra money is allocated to develop the project in Saxmundham, which would combine health and social care services in the town.

Dr John Havard, a partner at the town's existing GP surgery, spoke last night of his disappointment at the decision and said he “desperately” hoped there was still a chance the project would be financially backed.


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Doctors, patients and politicians had mounted a campaign to secure greater funding for the proposal after it was denied a share of a £1million pot for NHS schemes in Suffolk.

But while health bosses have reaffirmed their commitment to the project, they have resisted calls to allocate any more money to it.

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Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust is being recommended to fund the proposal only at the level of their existing funding to the town's GP surgery and Saxmundham Clinic.

The trust's board, which meets on Wednesday, is also being asked to recognise that no further money is available for the project through the NHS in east Suffolk.

Carole Taylor-Brown, interim chief executive of Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts, said she understood the recommendation would be “disappointing” for the practice and supporters of the project.

“There are many champions and ambassadors for the proposal and we do clearly appreciate the strength of feeling and support,” she added.

“What we have got to do is ensure fairness and equity in how we use the resources we are given.

“We are saying that we support the proposal and will continue to fund the practice at the existing funding level, but we cannot put any more money into the scheme at this time.”

She added the recommendation was consistent with the trust's stance when the project was first discussed a year ago.

Mrs Taylor-Brown said experts had carried out an extensive review of the business case and listened to the views of residents and councils before coming to their decision.

The trust's joint clinical director Anne Taylor and finance director Julian Herbert will outline analysis of the business case at the meeting.

They will say the financial risk of changing the trust's decision on the project was “too great” and could jeopardise future developments.

Dr Havard said: “We are all delighted to read that Carole Taylor-Brown supports the proposal and appreciate that the current financial crisis precludes her recommending any increased investment to the board.

“We maintain that the service delivery we have planned over the past few years will actually save the board NHS money that would actually help their debt crisis.

“We have to remember that this project has received national praise and, more significantly, both Government and strategic health authority grants, and so it clearly fits the national agenda.”

He added: “The proposed integration with the ambulance service and emergency care practitioners is cutting edge and offers great potential to save money in out-of-hours care.

“We desperately hope that pessimism will be overcome by realism so that the savings potential of the one-stop-shop can be unleashed.”

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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