Anger at last-minute Kirkheaton health centre setback
Jan 23 2010 by Sam Casey, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
HEALTH bosses have shelved plans for a new medical centre after a seven-year consultation process
Kirklees councillors as well as residents have voiced anger at the 11th-hour decision to put the community health centre in Kirkheaton on ice.
The announcement by Primary Care Trust, NHS Kirklees,also means plans for a new library and information centre on the same Parkside site have been dashed.
Dalton ward councillor Peter McBride said: “It’s bombshell news to me.
“People are upset at the council because we have sent them a letter about the decision, but it’s the PCT who have decided this.
“I’m really upset because it’s a big loss of amenity.
“Seven years is a hell of a long time to wait and now people have been told it’s going to be another four or five.
“Such a draconian decision, out of the blue, is annoying to say the least.”
He added: “At the end of last year I was led to believe it was going ahead.
“Now I have got a letter from the chief executive of the PCT to tell me almost everything is on hold until he gets more information at the end of March.’’
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Kirkheaton villagers feel they have been duped and misled in a seven-year inquiry into the location of a new health centre.’’
The proposals were to replace Kirkheaton Surgery, run by Dr Barnwell and Partners, on Heaton Moor Road.
But a ballot had recently been held with the majority of voters electing building on the recreation area in Parkside.
“This process pitted villager against villager and neighbour against neighbour because of opposing views,’’ said the resident.
“It seemed that a consensus was about to be reached through the ballot and subsequently the removal of a covenant on the land.
“Now after all this process, at the 11th hour, the PCT has decided the proposal will not go ahead.”
A new library and information centre depended on the surgery being given the go-ahead.
But cuts in NHS funding mean the centre will not be built for at least another four years.
A letter from GPI, the company that was due to fund the project, has been sent out to residents.
It said: “NHS Kirklees, in light of the financial circumstances of the Primary Care Trust and the difficulties facing the public sector finances, is unable to progress all their prioritised schemes.
“As such it has been decided that no additional financial commitment can be considered for Kirkheaton until 2014/15.
“While the requirement for a replacement medical centre in Kirkheaton will not disappear and with it the need to identify and acquire a suitable site, the timescales indicated by NHS Kirklees do not allow it to progress this site speculatively, nor would we wish to raise expectations unnecessarily with the majority of Kirkheaton residents who supported the community development or cause further concern and anguish to those residents who opposed the development.”
Richard Steel, rector of Kirkheaton Parish Church, said: “It’s sad that a lot of people have spent a lot of work on it and now it has all come to nothing.”
A spokesman for NHS Kirklees said: “NHS Kirklees has had a programme of developing new GP premises and improving others over the past three years.
“In the light of increased financial pressure on the PCT’s budgets the board considered a proposal to prioritise investment in new premises at its public meeting on 16 December.
“It was decided investing in the development of new primary care premises in Kirkheaton would not be possible until 2014/15 at the earliest.
“The board is aware of the disappointment this decision may cause local people but must consider all the demands on the healthcare budget in Kirklees.”
Director of finance, Bryan Machin, added: “We have been keeping Dr Barnwell and Partners, Kirklees Council and local councillors fully aware of the situation and will continue to keep them informed if circumstances change.”