New questions over health headquarters

A SUFFOLK MP is today urging the health secretary to call in a decision by the county's Primary Care Trust to move into new riverside offices.Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, has demanded that the decision should be examined by Whitehall chiefs to ensure it offers the best possible value for money for the health service and local taxpayers.

A SUFFOLK MP is today urging the health secretary to call in a decision by the county's Primary Care Trust to move into new riverside offices.

Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, has demanded that the decision should be examined by Whitehall chiefs to ensure it offers the best possible value for money for the health service and local taxpayers.

His decision came after it emerged that there had been at least one discussion about the potential for a new Suffolk Primary Care Trust headquarters to be built on a part of the Ipswich Hospital site. This was subsequently rejected.

Any decision to put the headquarters in Ipswich Hospital grounds would have:

nPlaced the PCT in Suffolk's county town - adjacent to key hospital colleagues, their major recipient of funds.

nAllowed a co-ordinated approach, with the £301,000 a year rent going to Ipswich Hospital instead of the private sector - vital extra resource.

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nAllowed staff to have public transport access.

nAllowed a redundant part of the 40-plus acre Ipswich site to be used.

Now Mr Yeo, himself a former health minister, said: “The time has come when this whole issue has to be examined by the Department of Health if people are to have confidence in the decision.

“There is so much confusion and so many doubts about this deal that the whole thing has to be examined by the Secretary of State.

“I shall be writing to Patricia Hewitt about this tomorrow when I return to my office in Westminster, and I shall be following this up with written questions in the House of Commons when parliament returns next week.”

Mr Yeo said he had decided to call for ministerial intervention after the PCT failed to answer many of the questions asked about its new building.

He said: “This is against a background of serious worry in the county and the local community about the way the decision to move to Bramford was taken and now it requires a full review at the highest level.”

The new Suffolk-wide PCT announced the decision to move to Rushbrook House in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford, at the end of last month.

The decision was made by a “transitional board”, which met behind closed doors and consisted of the chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown as well as the chairmen of the four former PCTs.

The board considered 11 other sites before arriving at the decision to move to Bramford, but the exact locations of these have not been revealed.

Health bosses say they believe it is the most cost-effective option.

The rent for the building will be £301,000 a year, which is £42,300 more than the trust currently pays for buildings in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Felixstowe.

The costs of moving have also been estimated at a further £40,000, but PCT bosses say the extra costs will be offset by a large reduction in management costs of around £86,480.

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