Warning that GPs could quit area
By Ted JeoryTHE provision of GP care has been put in “jeopardy” after a council rejected a plan for a town's new purpose-built health centre.The warning came from Gary Sweeney, chairman of Tendring Primary Care Trust's professional executive committee, after planning permission was refused for the centre in Clacton.
By Ted Jeory
THE provision of GP care has been put in “jeopardy” after a council rejected a plan for a town's new purpose-built health centre.
The warning came from Gary Sweeney, chairman of Tendring Primary Care Trust's professional executive committee, after planning permission was refused for the centre in Clacton.
He claimed doctors could soon start selling up and leaving the area altogether unless a site was found quickly for the centre.
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More than 22,000 patients are affected by the proposal to accommodate four surgeries in Holland-on-Sea and Great Clacton on one site after the Government said their current buildings were becoming outdated.
The primary care trust pinpointed a site in Kennedy Way and was hoping to buy the land to house both the state-of-the art centre and its new headquarters.
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But campaigners voiced concern over the plan, claiming the transport infrastructure was “completely inadequate” for getting patients who lived up to three miles away to the centre.
Tendring District Council planning officers had recommended councillors should approve the plan, but members of its development control committee, led by independent Jaywick member, Roy Smith, rejected the proposal.
Mr Smith said: “It made my day. I didn't expect that I would be backed up on this. We need new premises, but these plans are just in the wrong place.
“Many elderly people don't have cars and although the primary care trust said it would spend around £80,000 on transport links, that sort of money should be invested in health care at a site where links are in place.
“The area is just not appropriate. It's a designated industrial site and that would have to change - it's not as if we are overburdened in Clacton with those. We need to explore all options.”
Mr Sweeney said the primary care trust was extremely disappointed by the council's decision.
“We really do believe that this was in the best interests of patients. The rejection of these plans puts the provision of primary care in Tendring in jeopardy,” he warned.
“We're now back to status quo with GPs threatening to go. We'll look at the full decision and look at grounds for an appeal.”
Dr Abdul Karim Gbla, whose Great Clacton practice is one of the four surgeries that need to move, said the decision could spark the long-term deterioration of GP services in Tendring.
“It's difficult enough as it is attracting GPs to the area and this just makes it worse. My first concern is to my patients and they are the losers from this,” he added.
“At some point, we will just have to sell our practices and there won't be anywhere to go. I haven't got a real opinion on where we should be located, but we need a place fast for patients' sake.”