A potential multi-million-pound investment could bring years of delay in delivering an ‘essential’ new medical facility for Littlehampton to a conclusion.
Arun District Council leader Gill Brown announced the intention to bring forward development of the Enterprise Hub, at Morrisons, in Wick, last night.
A deal would be subject to Arun striking an agreement with NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the body responsible for primary care delivery,
Mrs Brown said: “I anticipate in the very near future to be in a position to recommend to my cabinet that Arun agrees, subject to the business case being acceptable to the council, to invest the necessary capital funds to make this happen.
“This will be on the basis that the CCG agrees with the council the terms for the rental and other essential matters to allow such a multi-million investment for the total refurbishment of the new surgery to occur.”
The hub was supposed to be converted into a space for small businesses when Morrisons opened in 2012.
It was also set to house a relocated Arun Medical Group, which has since announced the closure its East Street surgery.
The closure next month will see more than 7,000 patients dispersed to other under-pressure surgeries.
Debating the issue at Arun full council, Liberal Democrat leader Dr James Walsh said the situation was just one part of the ‘sorry tale’ of medical services across east Arun over 20 years.
“Frankly the people of Littlehampton and East Arun don’t trust health services managers any more because of their failure to deliver,” he said.
Dr Walsh said issues began 12 years ago, when Littlehampton Hospital was demolished.
He said: “12 years ago Littlehampton Hospital was demolished against a promise by the then health authority that they had a contract in place to rebuild the hospital within a matter of months.
“Within days of it being demolished that contract was cancelled and the empty site is a testament to the unfulfilled promises of the NHS that rankles with the people of Littlehampton and east Arun who used to use that hospital.”
The veteran councillor argued there was ‘no forward plan’ for upgrading facilities.
This included Littlehampton Health Centre, which he said was ‘acknowledged by NHS Property to be at the end of its life’.
Dr Walsh tabled a motion, calling for a joint task force to be set up to address the issue.
But following Mrs Brown’s investment pledge, it was amended to urge the CCG to work with Arun officers to delivery improvements.
In a rare showing of cross-party working, the amended motion was unanimously approved.
Mrs Brown acknowledged the CCG had only taken over commissioning of primary care in April.
She added: “I feel that our local residents have been badly let down by the NHS nationally and at a regional and county wide level since our local community hospital was closed and then demolished over 11 years ago.”
Click here for more on the wider healthcare ‘crisis’ facing the district.