New NHS centre 'will improve services'

HEALTH chiefs insisted last night that the opening of major new facility in Colchester would improve NHS services in the town - despite fears it would make key services harder to access for some people.

HEALTH chiefs insisted last night that the opening of major new facility in Colchester would improve NHS services in the town - despite fears it would make key services harder to access for some people.

The North Colchester Healthcare Centre will open on June 1 at the Colchester Primary Care Centre in Turner Road, next to the general hospital.

But the change coincides with the closure of the town's existing walk-in health centre and the GP out-of-hours service currently located at Middleborough.

Concern has been raised about the ease of access for people to the Turner Road site, but health bosses believe the wider range of services along with easier parking will make the move worthwhile.


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The Middleborough walk-in centre closes at the end of May.

Tina Dopson, the Colchester borough councillor in charge of “performance and partnerships”, was among those with concerns about the move.

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She told the EADT the cabinet members at the council had received numerous letters from people who did not want the Middleborough centre to close.

“The worries are about the transportation up there - all of our postbags have been full of people saying they do not want it to move.

“In particular there are a lot of workers who pop in at lunchtimes or after work - think of the amount of office workers in the town centre and it is easier to go there than to go to see a doctor.”

She said she had been “reassured” because of the quality of the new facility but would have preferred to see a phased change-over period whilst concerns about access remained.

“Using public transport is more difficult because the public transport to Middleborough stops right outside the current centre,” she said.

But Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, chief executive of NHS North East Essex said: “We are confident that the broader range of services offered at the new North Colchester Healthcare Centre, and other patient benefits such as easier parking, closer proximity to other health services and extended opening hours, will be seen as a welcome step forward in improved levels of healthcare once it opens.

“One of the many patient benefits resulting from the new GP-led health centre will be far less need to refer patients on to another health facility.”

He stressed that it was “in no way” intended to replace any existing GP practices.

“We have an expanding population and this new service will help ensure we continue to provide the best possible health services to the people of North East Essex,” he said.

The new NHS centre will be run by private company Harmoni, which has provide the out-of-hours service across north east Essex since October 2007.

Registered patients will be able to pre-book appointments and there will also be the walk-in service available to everyone. The centre will be open 7am-10pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Services will include phlebotomy, minor injury treatment - not currently available at the walk-in centre - contraceptive services and seasonal flu immunisation.

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