Health Centre - new ideas

I think a new Health Centre thread is needed to allow space for any fresh ideas that are emerging on a new medical centre for Wivenhoe.

To kick things off I’d like to introduce something which I gave a mention to at the Wivenhoe Town Council meeting (Feb 18th). Because of the limited time members of the public are given to speak I had to be brief, but I said I would put the idea up on the Wivenhoe Forum in greater detail. I’m afraid
it’s going to take a bit of explaining, and since there is a limit to the
number of characters you can have on a single forum posting, I’ve attached a Word document and a pdf version of what I've written. I hope you are able to open one of them OK (if you can't then I'll think of another way of getting it posted up here).

The proposal concerns the land at Millfield - (photos attached). This is in response, and as an alternative to, the proposal for a housing development linked to the health centre at the fire station site. The housing development would be built on the protected 'green break' area. Such a scheme is referred to as an 'enabling development' - but see this posting which explains the problems such schemes can have.

(Edit: Looks like the reason why some people can't open attached documents is that they only open when you are signed in to the Forum. If you are having trouble opening the attached documents below, check whether you are signed out. If so, sign in and try again. You should find they open OK then.)

Edit: This idea has been examined, discussed, and has now been withdrawn - June 2013.


  • Parking is a huge problem during school time and as for public transport, especially from the lower end of Wivenhoe!! I can't see this working.
  • Yes, a large car park will be needed if this site goes ahead. Quite a walk for most of Wivenhoe as well and very dangerous for those walking along rectory hill.

    Bus service isn't great either. No 61 or 62 there.
  • Wouldn't bus service operators want to go where the business is?
  • The Millfields site is an interesting idea but any site away from the main High Street/Avenue route will be problematic for access for many residents and I'm not sure that the volume of business would be enough to persuade the bus companies to alter their routes. Also the concerns that locals and primary school had about an increase in traffic (particularly during the building phase) still remain.   However people who objected to  losing the land for a housing development may feel differently about a health centre.

    I thought area-woman's idea of a ransom strip around the site at the Fire Station was also worth investigating.

  • Patsy, true. But that implies that we cannot even begin to consider any location not on the spinal route and it doesn't look as if we can afford that luxury any longer.
  • I am just anticipating what will be the likely, and very legitimate, concerns of many people. However it is worth investigating this further.
  • edited February 2013
    Thanks for all the comments so far. I don’t think there’s a for or against debate here, more of a ‘least worst’

    The issue of traffic is one that we just can't get away from whichever site is looked at!

    Admittedly from 2007, but this WTC survey of residents highlighted some
    concerns of relevance to the choices we are facing whether at the fire station or if Millfield were put forward. Under the heading of school runs it's worth noting that all the problems are about Broomgrove School, and Millfield School at that time didn't get a mention.

    This Millfield idea has absolutely no status at the moment, but obviously if a health
    centre there was formally put forward by a developer, whoever
    that might be, then a full traffic assessment would have to be carried out. The thing is the more reason
    you give to the Council to calm traffic, the more likely that it will happen –
    and they’ll be looking to the developer to take the burden of cost for traffic calming measures under a
    section 278 agreement.

    With a medical centre set back from the road the site is sufficiently large to allow for a well landscaped car
    parking area that could make allowance for school drop offs too. With full community involvement in finding the solutions it might not be as problematic as it may at first appear. If the issue is traffic, the rules are pretty strict and a developer would have to find ways of arriving at a workable solution wherever the medical centre is situated.

    On a specific point raised by Mottza - access by foot up Rectory Hill is not an issue as people are taken away from that road by walking up to Millfield via the alley at the bottom of Rectory Hill (Streetview image attached).


  • Millfields is also quite some distance from the chemist, which would add to the impracticality for many residents.

  • Great Bentley chemists run a free delivery service into Wivenhoe, all integrated with the surgery.
  • Is that available to all Marika? Haven't heard about it before.

  • Not ideal when you need your perscription straight away.
  • Adrian, yes it's available to anyone who wants it and it's an independent pharmacy.
    They've been doing it for some years. You tell the surgery you want the medicines delivered by them and when, and if you pay for prescriptions you pay on delivery.

    They've got a brochure explaining it all. Their phone number is 250120.
  • Marika, we have a perfectly good chemist in Boots why are you promoting the Green Pharmacy?
  • Thanks for the info Marika - hopefully won't need it, but good to know!

  • No, I agree.

  • edited February 2013
    One other idea that has come up recently, and which should go on record on this thread, is that mentioned by Cllr Neil Lodge at the WTC meeting on 18th February.

    The idea was for 'the town' to buy the new medical centre. He said he had put the idea forward at
    the last meeting of the Wivenhoe Surgery Group in January. This caused some surprise as it hadn't been included in the minutes of that meeting which were posted up on the WTC website. A
    little further investigation on this revealed that it had
    been mentioned by Cllr Lodge almost as an aside at the end of the meeting, and that's the reason it didn't get minuted. 

    Cllr Lodge told me that his idea would mean that Wivenhoe residents would have to pay for a new medical centre themselves through an increase in the precept (WCT's portion of the council tax) and by securing a loan from the Public Works Loan Board. The security for a loan from the Board is given by an automatic charge on the town council's revenue and not on the council's property.

    So it is like an additional sum of taxation on top of our national tax. Cllr Lodge said his plan would not involve housing to cross subsidise the Health Centre, and he said Realise Health Ltd would not be involved. So a lot to discuss on that one, not least risk and liabilities and whether Mr Gooch (landowner at the fire station site) would be willing to sell his land to Wivenhoe Town Council. At the moment Mr Gooch is not into selling the freehold, but leasing his land instead. This is a position that he has held throughout negotiations and is unlikely to change.

    At the present time the four doctors own the surgery.


  • The question of parking outside
    Millfield came up at a meeting of the Wivenhoe
    Neighbourhood Action Plan in Feb 2011 (as reported on Jason's blog)

    Something slightly more positive however is the report of disruptive parking
    outside Millfield School. Councillor Eugene Kraft observed:

    “You need a physical presence to address this. Whenever someone from the
    school stands outside during the school run, parents tend to park properly.
    Without this however and the problem returns. People don’t park cars – they
    abandon them. This is a great inconvenience to local

    In response, the Deputy Head of Millfields [apologies, didn't note your
    name...] kindly attended the meeting to update on the issue:

    “Our last formal complaint from a resident was back in May 2010. If we aren’t
    aware of the issues, then we can’t act upon them. We have extended parking in
    the school so that there are more spaces. Teachers arriving early morning are
    parking flush to the edge of the space. We now have fewer employees parking
    outside the school.”

    The Chair observed that the Millfields parking problem is
    now “not as bad as it once was.” The NAP agreed to remove the item from
    future agendas, pending any further complaints.

  • The area around Millfields school is filled with dangerous and chaotic traffic at dropping off and picking up time - just go and have a look on any day that the school is open if you don't believe me.
    Just because people have not been making formal complaints does not mean that the problem has gone away.
    More likely, they have given up trying to get something done about it.
    As for developing the last piece of open land in this part of Wivenhoe, which many people have fought very hard to protect, well......
  • edited March 2013
    How the Essex County Standard is reporting new ideas on the Health Centre...
    (The trouble is the article doesn't give the background information about the housing development proposal at the Fire Station site. That was the catalyst for both these suggestions. So please see attachments to the first posting on this thread if coming new to this subject)
  • edited March 2013
    Another idea...would the doctors consider financing and owning their new surgery in the same way that they own their current one?

    Here is a BBC report from January of this year on how a group of GPs in Frome, Somerset, successfully secured a bank loan to build the town's new health centre.

    It is on a larger scale than anything envisaged for the Wivenhoe Health Centre, but...

    "Partners at the Frome Medical Practice took out a bank loan in order to
    avoid using Private Finance Initiative funding or government help."

    This was touched on briefly in this other Health Centre thread

    Edit: Before getting too carried away with this idea though, the article does say the doctors raised £3m to secure a £10.5m loan. Well that takes some doing, and isn't the norm.

  • The British Medical Association's General Practitioners Committee (GPC) has admitted that additional premises funding looks remote (see attached report).  That makes sense of this passage from the last minutes of the Wivenhoe Surgery Group:

    " There continue to be discussions concerning the strength of
    covenant offered by NHS Property Services Ltd and Community Health
    Partnership Ltd.  Bernard asked John Henry if there was a lack of
    confidence in funding health care schemes.  He confirmed there was and
    that this had to be resolved. "

    GPC admits additional premises funding looks remote
    Pulse article – 11th January 2013 | By Sofia Lind
    The GPC has admitted that any new investment in GP premises is looking remote after talks with the Government on how to equip practices for the future shift in services from hospital ‘fell apart’.

    NHS Property Services, a standalone company wholly owned by the DH, will take over the role to reimburse practices for rents from 1 April when PCTs are abolished and will be responsible for costs totalling £1 billion each year.
    But as revealed by Pulse earlier this month, there may be a £500m gap in premises funding following the abolition of PCTs after it emerged that half of the costs used to be covered by PCTs themselves, with the GPC vowing to fight any of the costs being passed onto GPs by the company, also known as PropCo.

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