Felixstowe: Go-ahead agreed for resort’s �1m new medical centre

MAJOR improvements in health care for people in Felixstowe are in the pipeline today after the go-ahead was given for a new �1million medical centre.

Doctors have been searching for a site for a decade, but can now get ready to move forward with their plans for their project.

They still have to overcome one or two details – councillors criticised the building and called for significant changes to the design, and there are some legal matters to sort concerning highways issues.

But approval was given by five votes to three after assurances that the new centre would not take services from the resort’s community hospital, that an exhaustive search of other potential sites had taken place, and that every effort possible would be made to provide a bus service.

Felixstowe councillor Andy Smith told Suffolk Coastal’s south area development control sub committee that health provision at the resort was dire with two-week waits for appointments.

“This is a real opportunity to improve health services in Felixstowe,” he said.

But he urged significant changes to the design of the building, which he described as “overtly utilitarian”, an office monolith, bent in the middle with bits stuck on it, and not suitable to be next to countryside.

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Felixstowe councillor Kimberley Williams opposed the project because it meant building outside the town’s development limits, against policy. It was commendable of the doctors to provide more services, but she believed these should be at Felixstowe Community Hospital and the new surgery scaled down and built on brownfield land.

Head of planning Philip Ridley said: “This scheme will be for the betterment of the town for today, tomorrow and beyond, and is a positive project which is deliverable now.”

The centre, to be built next to The Grove and Abbey Grove woodlands on the edge of town, will replace the Central Surgery, described as Suffolk’s “poorest quality surgery premises” – cramped, cold, decaying and leaking, yet used to care for 16,000 patients.

The new two-storey medical centre will provide accommodation for its five partners, four salaried doctors, two nurse practitioners and large support staff, with improved safety, security and comfort, better access for disabled people, improved privacy and dignity.

It will feature all the usual GP services plus specialist diabetes treatment, more complex minor surgery, extra appointments and longer opening hours, asthma and phlebotomy services, osteoporosis assessment, midwifery and baby clinics, a mental health worker, and occupational health advisor.

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