New health centre plan

NEARLY £1m could be spent on building a health centre in Great Yarmouth with longer opening hours and a wider range of services.The department of health has set aside £250m to fund one GP-led health centre in every Primary Care Trust (PCT) in England, with Waveney and Yarmouth PCT set to receive £800,000 to pay for a new clinic which would be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

NEARLY £1m could be spent on building a health centre in Great Yarmouth with longer opening hours and a wider range of services.

The department of health has set aside £250m to fund one GP-led health centre in every Primary Care Trust (PCT) in England, with Waveney and Yarmouth PCT set to receive £800,000 to pay for a new clinic which would be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

As well as opening for longer hours, the centres will offer a range of health and social care services, from nurses to nutritionists, be located where the need is greatest, offer walk-in GP appointments and treat non-registered patients.

James Elliot, Waveney and Yarmouth PCT's director of commissioning and planning, said in a report for Wednesday's board meeting that Nelson ward in Yarmouth had been selected as the preferred location. because many of the existing surgeries there were full and the area had high levels of obesity and smoking-related deaths.


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Diane Collier, the trust's head of corporate development, said Yarmouth had been chosen because of its specific health care needs.

She said: “The Nelson ward has a high level of deprivation in all categories. A number of GP practices in that area also have closed lists, meaning that patients either can't access care or don't have choice.

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“Many people have called for doctor's surgeries to be open in the evenings and at weekends because they have to work during the day, so these centres would offer walk-in appointments and also treat anyone who comes in, regardless of where they are registered for treatment.”

She said the money from the government was intended to provide new and innovative services, not just new buildings or facilities. The lack of available GP appointments in the north of Yarmouth will become worse when the Nelson Medical Centre moves across the river to join the Cobholm and Lichfield Resource Centre.

If the PCT's board agrees to the proposal this week, work on the health centre could be underway by the end of the year so it could open in March 2009.

Mr Elliot added that once the centre in Yarmouth is up and running, the PCT would consider opening a similar facility in Lowestoft if a second wave of government funding is approved.

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