New surgery 'no longer part of plans'

A NEW village surgery which was built less than a year ago is still empty because it “does not fit in” with a new health strategy.Bernard Jenkin, MP for North Essex, will raise the Dedham Surgery problem when he meets Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, chief executive of the newly formed North East Essex Primary Care Trust, in the House of Commons today.

A NEW village surgery which was built less than a year ago is still empty because it “does not fit in” with a new health strategy.

Bernard Jenkin, MP for North Essex, will raise the Dedham Surgery problem when he meets Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, chief executive of the newly formed North East Essex Primary Care Trust, in the House of Commons today.

The meeting will cover a number of issues but Mr Jenkin's main concern is the future of the new Dedham Surgery, which was built last year with money donated by local fundraisers.

He is seeking assurances from Dr Zollinger-Read that the new PCT will support rural GP services in North Essex.


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However, with the cost of staffing the surgery expected to be £250,000 a year, the PCT said it had to prioritise healthcare where it was most needed and that the surgery “does not fit in” with its new strategy.

Mr Jenkin said villagers had been forced to travel five miles to East Bergholt to be seen by a doctor -a journey with no direct bus route which can cost patients £25 in taxi fares.

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He added: “This is not good enough, particularly for elderly patients. Dedham needs its own surgery.

“The Dedham Patients Steering Group, along with local councillor Chris Garnett and the people of Dedham, have worked hard to provide a building which will soon be ready to treat patients - now they need the PCT to provide some funding for a GP.”

A PCT spokesman said they had reviewed and agreed with an earlier decision not to support a branch surgery in Dedham.

He added: “The PCT has a clear strategy for the development of primary care premises.

“The strategic services development plan is focused centrally at the new primary care centre [in Colchester], which will be supported by a number of primary care satellite buildings.

“A stand-alone branch surgery in Dedham does not fit in with this strategy. A recent health equity audit undertaken by Colchester and Tendring PCTs shows that Dedham is one of the least deprived areas in north east Essex. Due to current financial difficulties both PCTs are committed to investing in areas of greatest health need.”

He said the opening of a surgery in Dedham would cost £250,000 a year, which would put the PCT under extra financial pressure and could affect vital front line services.

Mr Garnett, Colchester borough councillor for Dedham and Langham, said that although they were given no assurances by the PCT at the time, fund-raising proceeded with the belief that the needs of the practice's 1,200 patients would be met.

He said: “I suppose there was an element of risk but it seemed like a sure-fire case as it would mean people could walk to their surgery instead of having to get in their car and drive for five miles.

“The villagers think it is a crying shame - they don't understand. Local people must be consulted.”

The surgery cost £180,000 and is part of an affordable housing scheme funded by Colchester Borough Council, the Essex Rural Renaissance Fund and Colne Housing Society through grant aid.

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