Stansted health centre plans fall into farce

PLANS for a new health centre have threatened to fall into farce after details for a public meeting could not be confirmed just SIX days before it is due to take place.

PLANS for a new health centre have threatened to fall into farce after details for a public meeting could not be confirmed just SIX days before it is due to take place.

Angry residents in Stansted were not told about a meeting on Monday which will help shape a new health centre – then they could not be told a venue.

They confronted West Essex PCT chief executive Catherine O’Connell at a public discussion on local health matters on Tuesday, but she initially refused to discuss the centre.

This led to residents walking out on the meeting saying: “We have only been waiting 10 years already.”


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Stansted Parish Council chairman Geoffrey Sell urged the PCT to use the remaining days to get the message out and avoid what one villager described as “a riot”.

Cllr Sell said: “Get posters over to us. We can help you – but you have to help us. We will put them up but we will not be making them. This is your meeting.”

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Stansted resident Ray Woodcock said that residents had been let down again by the PCT after they failed to publicise meetings in the past.

“There was almost a riot last time this happened,” he said. “I would suggest that there is a police presence at the meeting this time. Catherine’s predecessor did a bad job at telling us what was going on and it looks like that is set to continue.”

Mrs O’Connell was pressed into giving a guarantee that the health centre would be built before PCTs are shelved in favour of GPs running local health services in two years time.

She said: “The PCT is absolutely committed to delivering the health centre before that time. There can never be an absolute guarantee but it will be in place – even if it takes the whole two years.”

She added: “I will liaise with people at the office and do our best to publicise the Monday meeting and its venue before the end of the week.”

That will do little to help the situation though, according to Uttlesford District councillor Alan Dean. He said: “Tonight’s forum was a big let-down for people who wanted to know when Stansted will get its health centre.

“People were told, ‘come back to next Monday’s public meeting’, but it hasn’t been advertised and no-one knew when or where it is to be held. I sense another public relations disaster.

“I have less and less confidence that the NHS will ever deliver this much-delayed facility.”

• The venue has since been finalised: it will be at Mountfitchet Computing and Mathematics College in Stansted on Monday starting at 7pm.

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