The Island’s county town could be left without a central doctors’ surgery leaving tens of thousands of Islanders facing the consequences.
Plans have been revealed to relocate Newport Health Centre, from its 2 surgeries, in the centre of town and Carisbrooke, to a potential out-of-town location next to Asda.
Another Newport GP practice is also set to close its doors, moving all operations to Wootton.
Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council (NCCC) was told the Carisbrooke facility was ‘unfit for purpose’ and the former practice partners at Dower House Surgery, on Pyle Street, wanted to sell their building. This leaves the practice currently housed in Dower House a year to find somewhere new before its contract runs out.
Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) confirmed it was in ‘very early’ discussions with the health centre.
Alison Smith, Managing Director, has said:
“It is looking at its future estate requirements with the possibility of relocating its practices into one building to provide patients with improved access and services”.
Instead of looking at alternative sites put forward by NCCC and the Isle of Wight Council’s regeneration team, councillors said developers engaged by Newport Health Centre, Assura, are favouring a greenfield site, with enough space for a state-of-the-art building and a large car park.
The Isle of Wight Council confirmed it is working with interested parties, partners and agencies to help the practice find a solution to the situation but is ‘aware of the impact’ the move may have on the local community.
Despite other sites in the centre of town being pushed instead by councillors, including building on car parks and the derelict land near Newport Fire Station on Coppins Bridge, the preferred site is said to be on Godric Road off St George’s Way, next to Asda.
The proposed site is Isle of Wight Council-owned but the authority was unable to confirm if a final offer had been made on the site, due to ongoing talks and negotiations.
Concerns had been raised by NCCC, with chair Councillor Geoff Brodie saying the move out of central Newport would be deeply disturbing and devastating for residents.
Councillors said patients are currently able to walk to the surgery but with the move out of town, residents who have no access to a car, may have to get 2 buses to now access treatment.
Patient watchdog Healthwatch Isle of Wight confirmed people have already started to contact them with concerns about how to get to their practice if the moves takes place.
Joanna Smith, Healthwatch manager, said the CCG and GP practices must speak to those who may be affected to let them know what is happening and why the changes need to be made.
Another concern, raised by Councillor Matt Price, was that the current timescale to agree the site, get planning permission and build the facility, could lead to GP provision being hugely disrupted.
Alison Smith said neither the preferred site nor timeline had been confirmed yet but the CCG and practice would engage with patients to seek their views of any move to help make an informed choice.
As part of Medina Healthcare, West Street Surgery in the town was also thought to be up for sale, NCCC said. Last year the health providers swapped branches so their main operations took place at their Wootton facilities, with the CCG now confirming the Newport branch is ‘not fit-for-purpose’.
Alison Smith said the Wootton branch was a much more modern building with better access and car parking facilities.
The rent, she said, of the Newport building would be ‘reinvested to continue to improve services for patients’.
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