New Sidmouth health centre hopes "dashed"

PUBLISHED: 15:14 13 February 2012

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£500,000 funding for library revamp withdrawn, say campaigners.

HOPES of a brand new health centre and library in Sidmouth have been dashed after a vital £500,000 of funding was withdrawn, campaigners claim.

“Flabbergasted” doctors and patient representatives say Devon County Council (DCC) has “scaled back” cash it’s willing to commit to a library revamp by 80per cent.

GPs – who’ve had to treat patients out of cupboards in their unfit-for-purpose current premises – say the money would have been a “catalyst for a long overdue project”.

They’ve led a campaign for a complete rebuild of both Blackmore Drive properties, and said £600,000 - earmarked by DCC for a library refurbishment - has been cut to £100,000. GPs had funding for the health centre element of their scheme.

Health centre staff and Sid Valley Patients Forum Group leaders said in a statement: “Failure in getting DCC to earmark funding for a library rebuild is a major setback.

“In this case failure is not an option. The health centre at present is not fit for purpose and makes delivering medical support to the community over the coming years extremely challenging. The doctors and patient forum will have to go back to the drawing board - but not for too long. This is a community project and we hope all councillors will endorse these efforts.

“Sidmouth residents will realise that the energy put into a health centre rebuild goes back years and that no alternative sites met the needs for the centre for the decades ahead - particularly where quick access by the doctors to the hospital will remain a priority.

“The health centre rebuild is almost an impossibility without the full co-operation of the library.

“A new surgery must have access for ambulances, and at present this fundamental criteria is not being met.

“Dr Duncan Hall, who’s spearheaded negotiations, was flabbergasted with this news - particularly in view of extensive efforts that have been made.”

A DCC spokesman said: “We’ll respond directly to Dr Hall and the patients forum on this matter in the very near future.”

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