Location of Weston's new £3.2million health centre 'won't please everyone'
- Credit: Studio Hive
The search for a location for Weston's new £3.2million health centre was an 'emotional rollercoaster' and it will not please everyone, doctors say.
After considering 17 different sites, clinical commissioning group bosses said the rugby club was the clear winner.
The state of the art facility, a replacement for the 'pretty grim' Graham Road surgery to serve up to 15,000 patients, will be built by spring 2023 as part of the redevelopment of the site.
Critics said decision-makers failed to understand the geography of the town or to consult with patients.
Alan Rice, former chair of the Graham Road Surgery patient participation group, told North Somerset Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel on March 18: “The funding is indeed welcome, as is a new health centre, but testing the waters with actual Graham Road patients indicates the new site is not welcome.
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"It is not on a bus route, detached from the town centre and on the wrong side of the railway tracks. There has been no meaningful consultation as far as Graham Road patients are concerned, they have been left in the dark.”
The Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG considered various sites, including industrial estates, the town’s former court building and the Sovereign Centre, but all were discounted.
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They chose Weston Rugby Club, which when redeveloped will feature commercial units and 200 homes, and the council also wants to build a school.
Dot Agassiz said in a statement to the meeting: “Locating the surgery at the rugby club ensures that there will be no GP surgery within a mile of the town centre. I choose to believe that this is not an attempt to deceive but rather a plan by those who have no sense of the geography of the town.
“Most objections centre round its inaccessibility to town centre residents, on foot, bicycle or by public transport. It is predicated on car use which goes against our climate emergency policy.
“You have the opportunity to look again constructively and creatively at a range of sites, to work with North Somerset Council to genuinely provide a medical facility that meets the needs of central Weston.”
When the options were ranked by the CCG, the rugby club scored 82.5 out of a possible 100 points, way ahead of the Sovereign Centre’s 47.5.
Colin Bradbury, the CCG’s area director for North Somerset, said: “This is about making sure the Graham Road practice has a fit for purpose future location to serve the patients on that practice list. You won’t get a perfect spot that will serve everyone equally.
“The new practice will improve the primary care offer overall in Weston. We’re planning to do an extensive piece of consultation with patients and stakeholders. We’re looking at mitigations around improved voluntary transport schemes.
“Moving 12-15,000 patients from one building to another will not solve all the problems for a population the size of Weston.
“We feel we’ve done a fairly exhaustive search of the available estate within the Weston area to use the £3.2million that was allocated. Seventeen options were considered. The rugby club option was a clear winner.
“One of the attractive parts of the proposal is there’s a major piece of regeneration planned for that wider surrounding area.”
Dr John Heather, a GP for 30 years, said: “This has been a journey to get here. It hasn’t been straightforward. It’s been quite an emotional rollercoaster. Everything is a compromise. No one solution is going to deliver everything for everybody in Weston.”
He added: “Graham Road is pretty grim and desperately needs somewhere to relocate to. The sooner the better. Within the new development there’s an 1,100 square metre state-of-the-art healthcare facility. It gives us an opportunity to join up care.
“Weston is not an easy place to get people to come and work. Having great facilities is important.
“My vision for the patients of Graham Road is that they get the best and not the worst – until recently, that’s what they’ve been having.”