Anger after health axe

DOCTORS were today preparing to pick up the pieces after a cutting-edge health project for a rural area of Suffolk collapsed when officials refused to fund it.

DOCTORS were today preparing to pick up the pieces after a cutting-edge health project for a rural area of Suffolk collapsed when officials refused to fund it.

The Saxmundham One-Stop Health Shop has been more than three years in the planning and had cleared every hurdle – including planning permission for a site off the old A12.

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

Health officials described it as an "innovative and progressive scheme" and there was bitter disappointment at their announcement that it would not be in line for funding.


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The centre would have brought a maternity-led birthing unit to the area, and meant less journeys to distant hospitals.

The state-of-the-art facility was set to combine health and social needs, and included a crèche, an ambulance station, an out-of-hours GP service, a diagnostic and treatment centre and a children's centre.

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"As there was only sufficient funding for five out of the six proposals, the County Premises Group recommended that this proposal was not funded at the present time," they said.

Doctors at the surgery issued a statement expressing their "utter regret" at the decision, but thanking those who had supported it.

"Even though social care and the ambulance service were fully committed, it is with utter regret that without the support of the PCT the project collapses."

Dr John Havard, who has campaigned tirelessly for the centre, said: "I'm very upset. Maybe we should be content to follow, not lead."

Other health care centres across Suffolk have received nearly £1million in new investment.

The award of £989,883, which has been specifically earmarked for primary care premises, will benefit thousands of patients living throughout Suffolk in the coming year.

Among the developments will be two GP practices being brought together at The Ravenswood Centre in Ipswich.

The purpose-built healthcare centre in Woodbridge for the Framfield House GP practice will be supported with the money to provide better facilities for the growing community and better access for people with disabilities.

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