Vow to fight for town's health centre

By Sarah ChambersDOCTORS have vowed to continue to campaign for a one-stop health shop, despite suffering a huge funding blow.The ambitious scheme for a health and social centre in Saxmundham incorporating a range of services from a birthing unit and NHS dentistry to a children's centre and a crèche lost out on crucial funding - despite being praised for its cutting-edge ideas.

By Sarah Chambers

DOCTORS have vowed to continue to campaign for a one-stop health shop, despite suffering a huge funding blow.

The ambitious scheme for a health and social centre in Saxmundham incorporating a range of services from a birthing unit and NHS dentistry to a children's centre and a crèche lost out on crucial funding - despite being praised for its cutting-edge ideas.

Chief executives of the Suffolk primary care trusts decided it would not share in almost £1million allocated by the Government for schemes in the county.


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Now the scheme's developer, Alan Howarth, is planning to set up a public meeting in the town early in the New Year and is hoping Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer and other representatives will be able to attend.

Mr Howarth said the decision not to allocate funding for the scheme had been greeted with “absolute disbelief” and added they would continue to fight for it.

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“We are not giving up, basically. We are going everything we can. It's one thing for us, but it means so much to the doctors,” he said.

“At the heart of this is the services, not the building. The actual health care at the end of the day is what this is all about.”

Dr John Havard, a partner at Saxmundham health group, which put forward the idea for the new centre, added: “We are going to fight it, definitely.

“The new building is about much more than the doubling in size of the population of Saxmundham. It will lead the way in fulfilling the demands of the NHS modernisation agenda and provide services for people much further afield than just Saxmundham.”

Dr Havard hoped Mr Gummer could be shown through the public meeting, “the depth of local feeling” on the issue.

“It's a chance for people to tell him what they think and also to understand more about it. Local opinion is absolutely vital and if people choose to express a view then it must be heard,” he said.

Dr Havard has also questioned the interpretation of the scoring system used by the primary care trusts to determine which bids would be allocate funding.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust said: “We appreciate all the hard work put in by the doctors and the developer to get the project thus far and we appreciate the local people must be feeling disappointed.

“We will be looking into the specific queries raised by the doctors and will do our best to answer them.”

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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