Stansted's new health centre back at square one

PUBLISHED: 08:37 29 July 2010

PROPOSALS for a new health centre in Stansted have gone back to the drawing board after NHS West Essex pulled out of negotiations to secure a village centre site.

PROPOSALS for a new health centre in Stansted have gone back to the drawing board after NHS West Essex pulled out of negotiations to secure a village centre site.

At a meeting of Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council last week, NHS West Essex chairman Alan Tobias and chief executive Catherine O’Connell informed councillors and residents that it had failed to agree terms with the landlord. It had spent the end of 2009 and the best part of 2010 trying to secure a deal.

And, in a further twist to the long-running saga, PCTs are set to be axed amid a major shake up to the NHS, meaning that the investment previously ring-fenced for the project is now under threat.

A spokesman for the PCT said: “The commissioning of local NHS services is to undergo significant change, including the abolition of Primary Care Trusts. The commitment to invest in the health centre cannot therefore be guaranteed beyond the lifetime of the PCT.

“With this uncertainty in mind and given the underlying need to provide new and bigger health facilities in Stansted with the increase in population and population needs, this development remains a priority.”

The PCT had previously proposed to build the centre at Foresthall Park. But that was met with uproar by residents wanting to keep health facilities in the centre of the village.

Despite its failure to secure a suitable location, the PCT board will consider other sites, provided that it met all its requirements, timescales and there is a clear commitment to deliver the project.

“The PCT was approached by a developer of a site within the village at the end of the meeting and there will be further contact,” added the spokesman.

With the doctor’s surgery at St John’s Road not fit to meet health provision for the 21st century, the village is anxiously waiting for new facilities. But the latest turn of events – and further delay – will be of great concern to residents.

Speaking after the meeting, chairman of the parish council, Cllr Geoffrey Sell, reiterated the council’s long-standing view.

“The council recognises that many residents wish to see health facilities continue to be provided in the centre of the village,” he said.

“If this is not possible, and a decision is made to locate to Foresthall Park, then an adequate bus service would be needed.”

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