Pioneering surgery for Dedham

ANXIOUS residents in the heart of Constable Country could soon be among the first in Britain to pioneer a flagship medical practice, it has emerged.After, almost two years' worry that the fabric of community life in Dedham could be destroyed by transferring thousands of patients to medical facilities in Suffolk, health chiefs have finally agreed a new site in the idyllic Essex village instead.

ANXIOUS residents in the heart of Constable Country could soon be among the first in Britain to pioneer a flagship medical practice, it has emerged.

After, almost two years' worry that the fabric of community life in Dedham could be destroyed by transferring thousands of patients to medical facilities in Suffolk, health chiefs have finally agreed a new site in the idyllic Essex village instead.

Subject to planning permission from Colchester Borough Council, the Constable Country Medical Practice, which, for the past 30 years operated from a one-bedroom flat, will soon have a new home. Under disability laws, the practice at the flat in Parsons Field had become outdated and failed to meet accessibility standards, which come into affect from October.

It was originally thought that 1,700 patients, including those from Langham, Boxted and Stratford St Mary would have to travel to a modern medical facility in East Bergholt - a plan the villagers fought and won.


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Now their victory is virtually complete after funding for a new, two-storey building in Manningtree Road, Dedham, was secured.

Under the proposals, which will be examined by Essex County Council's health overview and scrutiny panel on Friday, the state-of-the art facilities will combine not only the GP surgery, but also a dental practice and other medical facilities for nurses.

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Above the revolutionary one-stop medical station will be three two-bedroom flats owned and let as affordable housing by Colne Housing Society, which has recently secured much-needed funding.

The idea was the culmination of co-operation between various groups, including Colne Housing, the dentist, the GP practice and Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT).

The PCT's director of health improvement, Norman Foster, said: "The hard work that has been undertaken by everyone, including local residents, has been tremendous.

"The willingness, flexibility and sheer determination of all the partners to broker a solution deserves credit.

"It means that there can now be a model, purpose-built premise that will be a flagship and testimony to partnership working."

Christopher Garnett, Colchester borough councillor for Dedham and Langham, said: "It is altogether excellent news for the villagers - and just shows what can be done.

"I should think that this all-in-one medical station would be the first in the county of its kind. It's a magnificent achievement by everybody - the struggle has been worthwhile."

Before the new practice is built, interim arrangements have been made for patients to be examined at the village's Assembly Rooms after Dedham Parish Council secured nearly £11,000 of funding from the Essex Rural Renaissance Fund.

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