Public asked for help on health site bid

By Ted JeoryA HEALTH boss has been told he needs to justify on public interest grounds buying £1million-worth of disused land a hospital.Paul Unsworth, chief executive of Tendring Primary Care Trust, said he wanted residents to help him prepare a business case for buying the land at Harwich Hospital from the Government.

By Ted Jeory

A HEALTH boss has been told he needs to justify on public interest grounds buying £1million-worth of disused land a hospital.

Paul Unsworth, chief executive of Tendring Primary Care Trust, said he wanted residents to help him prepare a business case for buying the land at Harwich Hospital from the Government.

The largely derelict area of 0.76 hectares was transferred to the Health Secretary, John Reid, to allow the previous owners, Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, avoid paying the costly capital charge on it.


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Mr Reid has been considering allowing planning applications to build housing on the site – a scenario that would force up the land's market value.

But when the area in question was included in Tendring Primary Care Trust and Colchester Primary Care Trust's joint application to redevelop Harwich Hospital two weeks ago, Mr Reid agreed to review the situation.

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Now the Tendring trust has been told that if it wishes to buy the land before any residential dwelling planning permission is granted, it must show there is a demonstrable health need.

Mr Unsworth said he wanted the public to come up with ideas and added options could include improving the surrounding environment because it had been proved that helped to improve recovery rates at hospitals.

"We may see if we can obtain grants from the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission – that way there would be no cost to the primary care trust," he added.

"We must not lose sight of the fact that our priority is to build a new community hospital capable of providing first-class healthcare facilities."

"We will look very carefully at the effects of the port development and population changes to ensure we have all the facilities on site to provide 21st Century healthcare.

Mr Unsworth stressed the primary care trust would take its time over the decision and explore all avenues.

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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