Right project, just on the wrong site

WHEN the new �1million Grove Medical Centre is built, Felixstowe will have the health services a town of its size deserves.

I’ve been a pretty fierce critic of the site chosen for the new surgery, but there is no question at all about the desperate need for the project.

I still firmly believe using the paddock next to The Grove and Abbey Grove woodlands should not be allowed and sets a dangerous precedent, breaking through the town’s development boundary into countryside.

However, the list of sites considered and rejected because of various problems, failed negotiations and unsuitable size, has convinced me that every available site had been fully assessed.

The only alternative would have been to have scaled down the project, which would probably have made it unviable and removed the possibility of providing some of the health care the resort’s residents need.

Now we have to hope that all the services will happen, and that the hospital will not lose any of its clinics, and that the other surgeries also continue to provide all their facilities.

Because in the years ahead, as the town expands with 1,600-plus new homes, all those medical services will be needed.

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Felixstowe has a high proportion of elderly residents. Some 11.9 per cent of its population is more than 75 years old.

In Suffolk, nine pc of the population is over 75, and nationally seven pc.

So our town is above average locally and nationally – a true seaside retirement town: safe, quiet, low rates of pollution, ample supermarkets and beach huts, and with a sea view.

There will be even more older folk in the years ahead, too, as people will be living longer.

Those more mature residents are making good use of our medical services, too.

In 1995, they visited the town’s surgeries six times a year each – now it’s 14 times.

No wonder there can be a two-week wait for appointments.

Part of this is down to the increasingly extensive expertise of our medical services – now able to do treat so many more conditions.

The new medical centre – to replace Central Surgery in Hamilton Road – will help cater for that demand, and reduce the need for people to travel to Ipswich Hospital for their care.