FEARS are mounting that Seaford will be let down again over plans to boost health services in the town.
The comments were made by town councillor Samuel Adeniji following a meeting which discussed plans by two surgeries in the town to work together in a bid to improve facilities.
The community was left shattered after the Primary Care Trust’s controversial announcement it could no longer support plans to provide a health facility partly due to financial constraints.
Since then GPs from Old School Surgery and Seaford Medical Practice (SMP) have been in talks to look at the best way forward to bring outpatient services to Seaford.
It was felt this could be done by setting up a private provider company and presenting a business case to the PCT and emerging Clinical Comissioning Group (CCG) for the transfer of services from hospital settings to the town.
A similar model exists in Eastbourne - the Eastbourne Healthcare Partnership Ltd (HPL) - and GPs in Seaford are proposing to set up Seaford Healthcare Partnership Ltd in conjunction with Eastbourne HPL.
The proposal means that over a phased two-year period services such as ultrasound, gynaecology and direct access MRI scans could be provided at the current surgeries.
But Cllr Adeniji said without the support of the PCT and clinical commissioning group (CCG), progress will not be made.
He added, “I’m very delighted GPs are looking to work together to improve services in Seaford but my concern is the PCT and emerging CCG will let Seaford down again.
“Without the support of PCT and CCG we would not make any progress.
“I am concerned this could be a case of one step forward and two backwards. We must continue to apply pressure on the PCT.”
Dr Mark Barnes, executive partner at SMP, said to work in partnership with a private company to deliver services would not cost the NHS any more.
“It’s still only a proposal but it’s true both surgeries have got together, we do want to improve services for our local people,” he said.
“We are having to put together a business case. The CCG has asked for a needs assessment across the area to see where services should go – is Seaford the neediest place or is it Hailsham or Eastbourne?”
A spokesman for NHS Sussex said, “The needs of patients and local people come first when considering service improvements. In line with national thinking and what people locally have told us, changes in NHS care are increasingly about providing care closer to home or even at home.
“Therefore NHS Sussex and the Coastal Community Healthcare Consortium (CCHC) support the principle of moving services out of hospital into more accessible community locations.
“Working together over recent years, GPs and the PCT have been successful in achieving this in several instances. For example we have launched excellent community dermatology and anti-coagulation services in Seaford.
“NHS Sussex and CCHC will study the business case in detail, assessing whether the proposals are the best option for local patients, safe and financially viable.
“It is important this is done in detail, in the context of the tough financial climate and the desire to ensure the right care is provided across Seaford, Hailsham and Eastbourne.
Dr Martin Writer, chair of CCHC, added, “We ask the residents of Seaford to be patient. We remain committed to doing all we can for the people of Seaford, Hailsham and Eastbourne within the resources available.”