West Essex PCT has met the needs of both patients and practice needs fro Stansted’s new health centre

I WOULD like to respond to the article ‘Health staff jobs to go at West Essex Care Trust’ published in the Dunmow Broadcast (October 14), which also appeared on the Broadcast website, and the online article ‘Stansted health centre plans fall into farce’, following the public community forum meeting regarding NHS funding.

The management cost reductions referred to in the first of the articles affect commissioning staff of NHS West Essex.

The Dunmow clinic is operated by our provider arm, West Essex Community Health Services, which is responsible for delivering community health services in Uttlesford as well as in Harlow and Epping Forest. The cuts referred to in the articles are related to management and not clinical staff.

In relation to the second article, the PCT has been talking regularly to local Stansted residents and the parish council over the past two years to try to find a suitable site for a new Stansted health centre.

When the PCT, in 2008, put forward plans for situating the new health centre in Forest Hall, there was strong opposition from a number of local people as the site was not central to the village.

We listened to their views and have worked ceaselessly since then to identify an alternative site within the centre of the village, looking at a total of five potential sites in the last two years.

We met with the parish council in August to inform them that, unless another central site came up within the month, then we would have to move forward with the Foresthall site. The council understood that the Stansted practice was running out of time and that any further delay could risk the whole project. They passed a resolution supporting the Foresthall option (subject to improved public transport) if no other site could be found within a short period.

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Subsequent to the meeting, we were offered a potential central site, Castle Lotus, and have been pursuing this option as quickly as possible.

At a public meeting (held last Monday) we were able to confirm that the Board of the PCT has identified this new central site as its preferred option, but that we will progress both this site and the Foresthall site in parallel.

The reason for this is that we do not want to risk losing both sites and therefore having to start our search again.

If plans progress sufficiently with the central site by the end of the year, we will confirm this to be the site of the new development. If there is not sufficient progress then we will revert back to the Foresthall site.

The most important thing now is to ensure that we get the new health centre built and operational as soon as possible, as the existing facilities in St John’s Road are wholly inadequate.

It has always been a priority for NHS West Essex Board to provide new health centre facilities for Stansted and much time and effort on the part of PCT officers has been spent on progressing the project in consultation with local people.

We are very pleased to have been able to finally come up with a solution that meets both the needs of patients and the practice.

Catherine O’Connell

Chief Executive

NHS West Essex