PLANS have been launched to build a major new health care hub in Hailsham in a bid to deal with swelling patient numbers in the town.
The Seaforth Farm doctor’s surgery, on Vicarage Lane, has submitted plans to upgrade its current building, creating a five-GP surgery with 17 consultation rooms in a project which would be funded by East Sussex PCT.
If given the go-ahead, applicants SG Court Ltd will knock down a detached house on the St Anne’s site, next door to the current surgery to make way for a two-story 360sqm building with a front entrance onto Vicarage Lane.
The old surgery building will be retained and used for a range of therapies.
Plans for the new surgery include extended in-patient and out-patient facilities to cope with the pressure of patient numbers but also meet the extra demand of new residents.
Development architects, Clague said the new doctors surgery would boost the town’s ‘weakening’ economy and address the potential shortfall of health care services, highlighted by the increased population.
Hailsham Town Council is supportive of the application in principle, provided a safe pedestrian access is secured for at the Garrett Court residential area.
But the redevelopment has been met with caution by one Hailsham couple who believe it will pave the way for privatisation.
In a letter of objection submitted to Wealden Council, the Mill Road residents said they preferred the current surgery.
“We consider the proposal is financially driven and will be a partial privatisation of the GP service in Hailsham.
“The GPs in this consortium will, I imagine, lease the building from the developer and the whole ethos of the primary care will change due to the shaved expenses.
“We know centralisation is the key word now in the NHS but this is seldom in the patient’s best interest.
“We are more than happy with our GP practice and do not see the need for change,” they said.
An East Sussex PCT spokesman said the scheme had yet been formally approved.
“We have been liaising with Seaforth Farm Surgery on their proposal to develop a new practice building.
“Any such proposal would need formal approval from our board before going ahead and to date this scheme has not received such endorsement,” he said
“In the current financial climate the NHS, both locally and nationally, is looking closely at every pound it spends to ensure it is getting the most from the public funding it receives.
“As part of this, in East Sussex we are looking at all proposals for new or improved GP premises in the county to ensure they are affordable, both now and in the years to come.
“We will continue to work with Seaforth Farm Surgery on their scheme and consider it, as well as any other options for the future, for approval,” he added.