Talks to rescue health centre bid

URGENT talks are to take place to try to find a way to rescue proposals for a £5 million one-stop health centre which appears doomed because of lack of cash.

URGENT talks are to take place to try to find a way to rescue proposals for a £5 million one-stop health centre which appears doomed because of lack of cash.

The project suffered a major setback when it was not selected as a priority to receive a share of government funding for health facilities in east Suffolk.

Now members of Suffolk Coastal council's cabinet are to meet officials from the Primary Care Trust (PCT) to discuss the situation on the Saxmundham scheme.

Colin Hart, cabinet member for rural issues, thanked PCT chairman Tony Robinson for his speedy response to the request for talks.


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"I hope we can work together to put this important project back on the rails," said Mr Hart.

"We wrote to the PCT explaining that we wanted to explore any means by which we could assist as a council to help move this imaginative project forward to a successful conclusion.

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"This will be an opportunity to hear first-hand the reasons why the health centre project has been put on to a waiting list and what the implications are for its future.

"It may be that through working in partnership we can find new funding sources that could help support the project.

"I am looking forward to an open and frank discussion that may help the people of Saxmundham and the surrounding rural villages get the new facilities they so clearly deserve."

The council fully backs the project - which was to include a birthing unit, NHS dentist, ambulance centre, social care for the elderly, children's centre and crèche, and surgeries - and has already granted planning permission.

But it now appears to be shelved after missing out on a share of £1m of government aid for new health facilities.

Mr Hart, with colleagues Patricia O'Brien and Chris Slemmings, who are responsible for health and housing, told the PCT there was "clearly strong public demand for this innovative and visionary project".

It would meet a number of significant NHS targets to help reduce deprivation in an area where income is among the poorest 20 per cent in the county and bring a broad range of high quality health and social care services to the expanding market town and remoter rural areas.

n What do you think of the decision to cut the cash for the project? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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