WATCH group ‘alarmed’ at proposal to sell land around health centre
PUBLISHED: 14:36 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:36 09 January 2018
Concerns have been raised that land earmarked for the expansion of Sudbury Health Centre could instead be sold for housing and employment.
Members of the Sudbury WATCH (Working and Acting Together for Community Health) group say they are “disappointed and alarmed” to discover that West Suffolk Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is taking a major step toward selling land surrounding the centre in Church Field Road.
The group had hoped the land, which is currently unused, would be retained for future expansion of the health centre, but it has now been included in Babergh’s draft Local Plan, earmarked for employment or residential use.
Last night, a spokesman for the Trust defended the move saying the NHS has “a duty to look at how to make its land and buildings work better”.
But Sudbury WATCH chairman Nigel Bennett said: “WSHFT has already sold three health care sites in Sudbury – Walnuttree Hospital, St Leonard’s Hospital and Harp Close Meadow – on the understanding that the Church Field Road site as a whole would be reserved for health care. Now it seems that part of this site is to be sacrificed to Sudbury’s detriment.
“The course being pursued does not appear to be based on a longer term health needs analysis of the Sudbury area – and seems contrary to national NHS policy of taking pressure off acute hospitals. Last year WATCH proposed that a minor injuries unit and more rehabilitation beds added to the Sudbury Health Centre would relieve pressure on West Suffolk Hospital.”
Craig Black, director of resources at the Trust, said: “As per our local plan, which has been in place since 2012 following public consultation about four sites in Sudbury which were surplus to NHS requirement...we are now exploring planning application options for the Churchfield Road site. The NHS has a duty to look at how to make its land and buildings work better, as unfortunately unused land costs the Trust money to hold and maintain.
“Selling or generating income from surplus property that is not being used for patient care creates funds that we can invest to improve healthcare services.”
He added: “Any capital receipt from the sale of sites is reinvested into meeting the healthcare needs of people living in the communities served by West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.”