Health trust rejects Hailsham pub conversion plan

The Terminus Public House, Hailsham
The Terminus Public House, Hailsham

A PLAN to convert a town centre pub into a GP surgery and late-night chemist is set to be scrapped.

The proposal to a build a medical centre on the site of the Terminus pub in Station Road has been blocked by the local NHS Trust.

The Trust says it was “not good value for money” but has pledged to look for another site.

This is despite support from Hailsham Town Council which voted in favour of the planning application because councillors thought it would be good for the town.

Dr Isa Oezburun hoped to relocate patients from the Bethany House Surgery, in Battle Road, to the larger premises in Station Road. But the plan has been rejected by NHS Sussex.

On December 20 the proposal received a positive response from Hailsham Town Council’s planning committee, and councillor Jo Bentley, the chairman of the committee, is disappointed with the subsequent Trust’s decision. She told the Gazette, “We fully supported the application.

“We were unhappy about the loss of another pub but supported a new GP surgery because we need it as part of our infrastructure.

“There are lots of housing developments being built in Hailsham, but when are going to get the infrastructure to support them?

“We were also very keen on the idea of a late-night chemist, which we understood would be open seven days a week until 11pm, because there are a lot of young families in the area and it would have meant they wouldn’t have had to travel all the way to Lottbridge Drove for this service.”

Cllr Bentley said the town’s 20,000 or residents would soon have “very little choice” over GP services.

She also said the recent departure of three GPs from the Vicarage Field surgery (which will be staffed by locums for the next year) had caused concerns among the practice’s 5,000 patients.

A spokeswoman for NHS Sussex said, “In seeking new premises in Hailsham from which to practise, Dr Oezburun applied to relocate to the Terminus building.

“The local NHS premises panel did not accept this application for a number of reasons.

“Hailsham needs more GP provision to the north east of the town, where a new housing estate is being built.

“The Terminus site is close to three existing practices in an area where there are already sufficient GPs.

“The Terminus site is also much larger than is needed for a single handed GP. The Terminus site is not therefore financially viable.

“While we have for some time been discussing ways to develop additional community services in Hailsham, we also need to make sure we get the best possible value out of every penny of NHS money.

“There is no support from local clinicians or the Clinical Commissioning Group for using this site as a hub for the development of additional health services.

“We understand Dr Oezburun is continuing to look at alternatives, including the possible purchase of Bethany House. We very much hope Dr Oezburun reaches a satisfactory conclusion in this process.

“The local NHS will ensure that patients of the Bethany House surgery will continue to be seen by a local GP, whatever the outcome of Dr Oezburun’s search for appropriate premises.

“This is the responsibility of the primary care trust (PCT) and we will inform patients immediately if there is any change to the current surgery arrangements.”