The following is typical of questions we’re receiving:

“Repeating the views of others, but at every presentation regarding the new supermarket the overwhelming reaction to the GP relocation was rejection. However, somebody knows better and is imposing change without consultation. This proposed move has much more significance for the Town than just a medical facility relocation. The whole concept of the Town was the accessibility of the services and they were centralised. This proposal must not be approved without the agreement of the Town as a whole. At the supermarket consultations we were told the ‘Health Centre’ was not supported by the NHS and after an initial wavering of the GPs was rejected by them as well and so the matter was closed. Where is the consultation? Where is the rationale that supports the proposal? The last Government promised devolution to the people affected to make decisions locally; where is our democracy?”

The SWF Health & Social Care Group’s answer is:

The process for this development as a whole including the health hub was exhibited and explained by the developers at various times and was reiterated by various NHS people along the way. The developers of the new supermarket offered as their necessary community contribution to provide the new health hub at that location. Objections were expressed, including by some members of the Patient Participation Groups of the SWF GP Practices and the SWF Health & Social Care Group, along with others, to the location. Indeed some of our Group came up with ideas about how a new health hub could be provided in the Town centre ‘in exchange’ for the donated site. However, the developers wouldn’t budge. They went ahead with their planning application which was approved, despite objections about this, by Chelmsford City Council, the planning authority. The GP Practices then decided it was in their best interests (taken as a whole, including the interests of delivering most services to their patients) to move to the new health hub. No doubt they will be happy to explain their reasons again at the forthcoming public meeting which hopefully is being arranged for early in 2019.

This is now a done deal and it’s too late to change it, despite whatever serious misgivings there are about it. So the job now is to get the best from the way things are. This is often the case and our Group’s role is to get the best health and social care within the existing systems whilst always taking opportunities to advocate improvements. In this case we also took note of the fact that opinion about this development by SWF people was mixed. We always said that we supported the concept of a new health hub but not there. Given the fait accomplis we now want to work with all involved to get the best services delivered in the new health hub and the accessibility issues addressed.

We’re sorry we can’t say differently. We hope everyone will join in the efforts to get this to work as best it can.