March 12 2014 Latest news:
West Suffolk chief reporter
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
A full range of health services will be up and running at a new £10million health centre in west Suffolk by the autumn.
The state-of-the-art facility in Church Field Road, Sudbury, will be one of the biggest in the county.
The NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) centre will replace current outdated facilities at Walnuttree Hospital, St Leonard’s Hospital, Acton Lane Clinic and the Siam GP surgery.
Yesterday, a “topping out” ceremony took place at the site to mark the highest point of the building being completed. Local people, some of whom have campaigned for more than 40 years for a new hospital facility in the town, were at the ceremony to see how the building is progressing. Although work on the exterior has been delayed by bad weather, the roof has now been sealed and plans have been put in place to speed up work on the interior with a view to moving staff in to the centre as soon as August.
Anne Nicholls, chairman of Sudbury and Locality Community Reference Group, which has been advising NHS Suffolk on the project, was a consultant at West Suffolk Hospital in 1973 when the idea of a new hospital was first put forward.
She said it was very exciting to see the building progress after such a long wait.
Chilton Parish Council chairman Peter Clifford, who is also a Sudbury hospital WATCH group member and has been spearheading the push for the health centre, said: “We have had a few issues with the weather which has slowed down work on the outside of the building but we are now hoping to catch up on the interior.
“We are quite well advanced in planning a bus service from the town centre and the NHS has been talking to bus companies so we are hoping to bring forward plans for that.
“Preparations have been made on site to accommodate buses of all sizes from hoppers to double deckers, and due to community involvement, a bus shelter has now been included in the plans.
“There will also be electrical charging points for electric vehicles.”
There has been some concern in Sudbury about the loss of the town’s two hospitals, but NHS Suffolk has assured local people that all of the current services – and a number of additional ones – will be available at the new facility.
When complete, it will house paediatrics, dermatology, audiology, gynaecology and rheumatology departments. Patients will also be able to have x-rays and blood tests at the centre and a mobile MRI scanner will visit the premises.
Andrew Eley, deputy chief operating officer for West Suffolk CCG, said he was delighted that construction work on the Sudbury community health centre was progressing so well.
He added: “We know that seeing the building take shape is a huge relief for local people who have waited so long for this to turn from vision to reality. Their commitment to the project has been phenomenal.”