Health Centre Changes
  • The proposed site for the new Health Centre has now changed from the land behind the Fire Station down to Cook's Shipyard. This has been confirmed by Cllr Julie of Young of Essex County Council.

    Realise Health Ltd has agreed terms on a unit, subject to planning permission. Discussions about this have already started with Sue Jackson, the Principle Planning Officer at Colchester Borough Council. A new pharmacy is understood to be part of the plans.

    Wivenhoe Town Council agreed to discuss this behind closed doors at the last public meeting back in September.
  • Hmmm, that's going to upset a lot of people.

    Still think the Cedrics site would have been ideal an accessible to all residents up and down the town as its on a major bus route.

    The closest bus stop will require quite a walk for residents without a car.

    Thank goodness for the very kind folk at Wivenhoe Helping Hands, they will become very busy.
  • Wivenhoe Town Council agreed to discuss this behind closed doors

    What is all the secrecy about? Why was this disussion held behind closed doors.
    Wivenhoe has been waiting for a new health centre for years and now it is going to
    be 'units' in the middle of an overcrowded area with no public transport or parking.
    Is this a joke?
  • I wonder whether the units referred to are the unsold ones next to the wet dock or if this is in a new building- presumably where the offices are proposed to be built, between the dingy park and the sailing club. It is much more likely to be the latter I think. Either way, seems ridiculous for access purposes.
  • existing unit or empty business space unlikely to be let current economic climate means cheaper rent etc more profits to bump up the already very high doctor salaries - customer/patient access is not a priority - make most money from those they never see - income but no expense with those

    if you a seriously ill/terminal/disabled maybe needing more assistance you try get on a doctor's list

    even if on list appointments etc not always easy and tell you go drop in centre at hospital - so they get the income but other the work/costs

    who said doctors were a service ...
  • What a joke. They'll need a lot of parking and also the roads in that area won't be able to cope with more traffic.

    Will the site actually be any larger than the current one.
  • Given the importance of the new Health Centre to the community, the people of Wivenhoe should be told the reasoning behind this scheme.  It is hard to see how the health needs of a community of more than ten thousand people can be met by this proposal.
  • Will they be routing a bus service down to the new centre? It will be difficult to reach otherwise. It does not make sense to put an health centre which will be used by the majority at the edge of town.

    Are there any plans to build more houses down that way in future, so that the health centre is in the centre of Wivenhoe?

  • Interesting to note that a new pharmacy is understood to be part of the plans.

    As recently as 2010 the arguments about whether Wivenhoe needs a new pharmacy were aired here:

    Two years ago the North East Essex Primary Care Trust was of the opinion:
    "...that there is already adequate provision of pharmaceutical services within the neighbourhood through the existing pharmacy."
    and also said:
    "...that there was no further evidence to suggest that the existing provider would not be able to
    service an increase in demand."

    So I suppose the two questions that this raises are:-

    1) Is it likely that the North East Essex Primary Care Trust has had a change of mind and now thinks two pharmacies in Wivenhoe are required after all?


    2) Will the new pharmacy simply replace the present one, and Wivenhoe will still have one pharmacy, but in a different location?
  • Gazette article from our chief reporter (I'm clearing my desk as have two days off tomorrow/Friday).

    As a reminder we're always looking for your letters: - people on the forum always have interesting things to say!

  • Well, while everybody is chipping in with their reasons why it's a bad idea for them....

    I'm delighted. It means I can feasibly see the doctor and be on the train to work within 10 minutes. Likewise it will be very useful for anyone wanting a post work appointment.

    Perhaps there should be parking for the disabled and elderly only. Most of us are told to get more exercise when we're at the doctors anyway.

  • As much as I am sure some people will be pleased. It doesn't help the elderly who can't drive who probably need to visit the GP more regulary.
  • Horses for courses I guess. I'm sure the elderly population South of the Co-op will be delighted that they won't have to get the bus to see the GP anymore. Putting the surgery opposite The Flag would have moved it further away from a greater proportion of Wivenhoe.

    Yes there would have been more parking but we should encourage less car use in town.

  • I guess it will be the grey building which is between the boat park and the backs of plots 93-96. It has 13 allocated parking spaces and then there are the additional 26 visitors spaces, but these are supposed to accomodate visitors to boat park, houses and the waterfront generally I think.
  • I don't suppose this news will have filled the *good folk* of Wivenhoe Helping Hands with joy.
    High kerbs, no vehicular access (if it's going to be where we think it is), narrow approach roads alternatively unmade roads- all far more difficult for people who need WHH services in the first place.

    As to the 'behind closed doors' business, I can only think that it was politically embarrassing- which is held to be NOT a valid reason for going in camera in authorities to which the rules apply...which doesn't include WTC.
  • Hmmmm....

    First the cycle path funding for "up top" is, well, "iffy" then this....

    Whats the REAL agenda for this area one wonders...and why do we always find out from other sources ? (mushrooms in the dark ?)
  • cycle path land needed primarily and previous new surgery location planned both current same land owner yes i think - coincidence or not relevant ???

    the paranoid conspiracy theorists may disagree
  • i know of few and actually met even less councillors etc here (those i briefly met or had dealings with generally surprised me in a good way their attitude and efforts to help me within their 'job' spec)

    maybe not the same here but ...

    all i know is from my last residence and work areas one would find lots coincidences of personnel/connections between officials/representatives and strange local policies/plans/permissions granted or refused until one looked at main protagonists and followed links etc then a lot would sometimes become very quickly a lot less grey and in several cases made the media anyway as all a bit suspect too many things too many times
  • Well waddaya know. : Realise Heatlh Ltd had it all figured out for the Colchester Rd location.

    I may have missed that bit of information before, but is this now all to be scrapped? The latest update on their site is from February this year.
  • That is absolutely absurd ... the narrow streets can't cope with the traffic as it is. And are they planning to change the bus route - maybe some double-deckers wobbling up and down Angelsea Road. Oh, and how about throwing in an Asda down there too - yes, and a multistorey car park? Anyone fancy anything else? Perhaps with a little more council brilliance we can get everything to come to a standstill and the whole population of Wivenhoe slides - splat - into the river?

    Step forward - all those who are responsible for this unbelievably stupid decision.
  • Oh of course - it's a private company. I bet there's a bit of a profit things going on here.
  • There will be an official Council press release which I support because of the situation.  However, this Councillor is going to stick his neck out as an individual.  My comments do not necessarily represent the official response of the Council.

    However, as a member of that group of volunteers who do their best I feel obliged to stand up to some comments. They have spent a lot of time trying to help find a solution. They support the need for a Centre and have done their best to help seek that solution with somewhat tied hands. Rock and a hard place comes to mind.

    If we were paying the piper we could call the tune.WTC are consulted but are not in a position to make or break a final decision.WTC was asked not to discuss in public the situation whilst negotiations were taking place. There are concerns that if a decision is not made the Centre could be lost, so we are told.

    I understand that very few people use the bus to attend the surgery by the way.  Access will be a nightmare but safer than crossing a busy main road and top enders might discover we have a river!

    As a Helping Hands volunteer I know we will be called upon more for lifts and will almost certainly not be able to meet demand because of shortage of volunteer drivers.  A proper transport lift system will be needed. The top of the town was just as far away for residents at the bottom as the new proposed site will be for those, the majority by the way, at the top.

    The visitors parking spaces at Cooks will soon be pay and display. They are intended for visitors, not the Surgery or Cooks residents. Cooks site is a nightmare for access, exacerbated by the inconsiderate on street parking by residents too lazy to use their designated spaces.

    Should it have been at Cedrics.  In my view, always yes, but once that site had planning permission for residential it went beyond affordability we are told.  WTC tried but couldn't stop that residential planning consent.(Wish the Co Op would buy it!)

    Do we want three more expensive houses at Cooks, or commercial units they can't sell, or a medical centre? Think on it a bit folks.

    Am I happy about it?  The Jury is out. It could be better than the one we haven't got. What amuses me is that in spite of restricted information, the good old Wivner rumour machine has foiled the system, everyone knows and I haven't grassed...

    Love it!!!!

    Of course doctors and patients are not noisy.  I add that to lighten this, because you won't believe it but the Council has had another complaint about the Church bells on Sunday morning. Must be from a townie.  I'm thinking of getting a cockerel!  At least the complainant won't have far to go for sleeping pills!

  • "Cooks site is a nightmare for access" You're right.
  • Received from Mayor Cllr Penny Kraft of Wivenhoe Town Council:

    "Wivenhoe Town Council soundly supports Realise Health Ltd. and the Wivenhoe surgery in their quest for a new medical centre in Wivenhoe. Whilst understanding that this initiative has been plagued with setbacks, the council remains supportive of the pursuit for a suitable site."
  • You can read all about the profit making company and its shareholders who took decisions behind closed doors when choosing the most 'suitable' site for your centre here:
    This is what happens when chunks of the NHS is privatised. The aim is profit over the people's needs, reached via secret non-democratic decision-making.
    And we now know who the council support - the private company and not the people of Wivenhoe.
    By the way, we'll be losing commercial units for start-ups too. I thought plans for Cooks were only passed because they promised units for small businesses?

  • Does anyone know anything about ahsleyhouseplc? It seems that this company is possibly involved in the deal as well.

    I note that the Chief Exec of RHL is also the Development Director at ashleyhouseplc.
  • Finally, I would like to ask Wivenhoe Council and Realise these questions:
    1) What margin of profit will be made to the companies involved in choosing the Cooks site over the original planned site?
    2) What are your thoughts on the very limited access to Cooks: a) an unmade road without footpaths b) a road the width of one car without footpaths c) no bus service
    3) Why were your decisions made behind closed doors?
    4) Can you clarify any obligation the Cooks original building plans had to offer commercial units to small businesses?
    I'll be writing to discover the facts - I hope others do to. We all have personal interests but there are very serious principles at stake here too.
  • FOI made.

    I'm interested in knowing when WTC first knew of the proposed deal and how long they have been sitting on it for. Not holding out - the usual 'commercial confidentiality' will probably be cited.

    Other FOI's can be made over here.
  • Walk to the Doctors, yeah right thats a good 35-40mins walk from Broadfields.

    Take the car,  and now get stung for pay and display parking, or find a space that will clog the streets further.

    I really can't how this is a improvement.

    Brian, us top enders do know of the bottom you know!
  • Why can two smaller surgeries not be considered - one up the top, one down the bottom?

    Obviously there are cost considerations but could we not have two smaller, cheaper buildings (one already existting) each with fewer GPs, rather than one larger building with a greater number of GPs (no doubt led by a practice head absolutely raking it in).

    This would also allow choice (perish the thought) and easier, more local, access for all.

    As far as Cooks is concerned, acess would certainly be a problem if it was the only option (as proposed), but I don't think it makes sense to keep empty commercial units, and certainly not to build any more, with no  chance of letting them.  Shops, a cafe or a bar would be good - provide more choice on the river front.
  • Comment withdrawn - Borough Councillors and County Councillors were not involved in the discussions.
  • TomK, that's a very sensible solution and for that reason it would not be done.

    Just surprised our Councillors are not fighting this?
  • I'ld say a GP surgery would generate more traffic and parking issues than a restaurant or bar which most people would walk to.
  • "WTC was asked not to discuss in public the situation whilst negotiations were taking place."

    So much for governmental transparency!

  • Mike I am not elderly nor am I particularly unfit but believe it or not when I go to the doctors I am ill. The thought of walking back up the hill is scary. We would be better off keeping it where it is at least it is more or less central and on a bus route. Come on there must be something we can do.
  • WTC are consulted but are not in a position to make or break a final decision.

    If WTC cannot influence the decision one way or another as Brian writes then what was stopping them from saying NO to a proposal they know to be ludicrously unsuitable?

    Would have been refreshing to see them standing up to pressure from outside bodies.
  • Note: "Borough Councillors and County Councillors were not involved in the discussions."
  • Why doesn't the current government ensure that local community views and councils are involved in decisions about 'Community' Health Centres? It's because the government has put the power and the purse-strings into the hands of private, profit-making companies.
  • Can anyone explain the processes involved in establishing a new health centre/gp practice following the recent health 'reforms'?  Which bodies are involved? Is any patient/community consultation supposed to take place? Who has the final say?  Is it now a wholly commercial decision by the independent contractors i.e. the gps?

  • Like Mike, this location would put the health centre within walking distance for me, which is a huge improvement on both its current, and originally proposed locations. However, surely those involved in the arrangements for its quayside location will have factored in access and parking factors?  Perhaps they'll build the new access road across the marsh (which should have been there in the first place for the Cooks development) to ensure easy access for buses etc..?

    Sorry, have to go: forgot to take my medication this morning...

  • A huge improvement for you Puffin means no improvement for anyone who does not live by the river. It suited me very well when the doctors surgery was next to the police station before the new developments meant that the doctors needed bigger premises. When it moved to its current place it was further away but was fairer. Both the fire station or the new proposed site makes it more of a town of two halves. Who will build this new road? The developers? I don't think so. Incidentally the surgery is not only used by Wivenhoe people there is not a doctors surgery in Alresford. Helping Hands a fantastic initiative should not be considered an alternative to public transport. What about the police houses they already belong to the council?
  • So, on 16 October 2011 WTC excluded the public on the grounds that 'publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted', to discuss what has now been disclosed through Jason's FOI request:

    The local Doctors’ Surgery were looking into raising their own funds for a new Surgery and were currently looking around for suitable sites and requested the support of the Town Council in their investigations.

    After discussion it was AGREED that the response of the Town Council be that they supported the Surgery in their search for an alternative site for a Medical Centre and looked forward to the Surgery presenting their ideas to the Town Council.

    I ask you: what was confidential about that? Other than that it tipped the wink that the original plan was no longer believed to be viable, and that WTC wasn't very comfortable with the idea of anyone knowing they knew.In September 2012 the public were excluded once more but we apparently cannot be told why until the minutes have been signed off at the October meeting. We'll see what was so confidential that time...
  • Does anyone understand this (!) from the minutes of the meeting of Wivenhoe Town Council held on 17 October 2011 ?

    Health Centre:
    Cllr. Lodge reported the disappointing news that new
    technology ‘Skype’ could put an end to Wivenhoe’s long awaited new Health Centre. A
    letter would be sent to Bernard Jenkin MP and the Chief Executive of the PCT expressing
    the Town Council’s dissatisfaction and requesting an explanation.

    From request J Cobb.doc.html
  • I really would appreciate someone telling me why we cannot have two surgeries.  According to the linked report below, in 2009 there was one GP per 1,430 people in the UK, with the East of England the most under provided region with one GP per 1,570.  At these rates, Wivenhoe's 10,000 (I think that's about right), plus Arlesford, would merit 6 to 8 GPs.  Why can't we have 3 or 4 in a surgery up top and the same at the bottom?  The same report states that in 2010, 45% of practices in England contained between one and three GPs, so the practice size would not be unusual.

  • Decent work in such a quick response to the FOI. I've uploaded the file at the bottom of this post.

    The minutes for October 2012 however are still missing - these are the ones that I think will be most telling.

    I'm still confused by some of the timings though. On 17th October
    2011, the public was excluded. Here's the link to my blog.

    And here are the minutes to which the public were not allowed to hear:

    "PUBLIC BODIES (ADMISSION TO MEETINGS) ACT 1960RESOLVED that by virtue of the provisions of Section 1 (2) of the Public Bodies Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, the public be excluded during discussion of the following business on the grounds that publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted.

    1. Wivenhoe Health Centre Cllr. Lodge reported that the local Doctors’ Surgery were looking into raising their own funds for a new Surgery and were currently looking around for suitable sites and requested the support of the Town Council in their investigations.

    After discussion it was AGREED that the response of the Town Council be that they supported the Surgery in their search for an
    alternative site for a Medical Centre and looked forward to the Surgery presenting their ideas to the Town Council."

    And so it seems that WTC knew about the possible change in location of the Health Centre back in October of 2011.

    Yet four months later, the success story of the new surgery being built behind the old Fire Station was still being pushed out.

    Bit lost lost on this one...

    [Edit to add: unless the "alternative site" is an alternative to the existing bungalow - the location of behind the Fire Station has long since been the aim before October 2011 though.]
    FOI request J Cobb.doc
  • I can't believe all of this. The WTC must be held to account. So, they weren't at the most recent meeting - was that because they didn't want to be? ie they didn't want to be 'seen' to be responsible? They wanted to hide the fact that they were no longer representing the residents? Or were they forced in some way to agree to the new position of the surgery - forced by who, what?
    How are we supposed to trust any of these people when they won't just tell us the truth?
  • Having two locations in Wivenhoe might not be cost effective. Most new-build health centres incorporate space for additional activities such as minor surgical procedures, more nurse-led consultations and facilities for other health professionals like physiotherapists.  Keeping these things away from major hospitals and in the community makes sense. It is hard to see how the Cooks location could incorporate these additional facilities.

  • I guess the Skype reference in the WTC minutes (see posting five back from this) is about using it for medical consultations.

    Were Skype calls ever seriously thought to be an alternative to a new health centre?! I wonder if any reply was received from Bernad Jenkin MP or the PCT?
  • What a shambles.

    By the way, why don't people (you know who you are) who want to slag off anyone that lives north of the Coop keep their feelings to themselves - all a bit pathetic really....
  • Remember there is a another doctors in Wivenhoe at the University.
  • Thanks Patsy.  I guess the smaller surgery model (45% in England in 2010) is on the way out.  Though, I'm not sure if having these activities all concentrated in large surgeries, rather than shared around, fully compensates for older and less able people having to travel more than a mile to see a doctor.  But I guess that's the new orthodoxy, as few people (just me!) seem to feel that two small surgeries is viable.

    BTW, without supporting the Cooks proposal, there would be enough room to accomodate all these activities, but the access, parking and traffic issues remain.  As do the increased distance older and less able people would have to travel from upper Wiv - I don't know for sure but I would guess that upper Wiv contains proportionally more older people these days than lower Wiv does, but happy to be corrected if wrong.  Also, of course, older people have more need for GP services.

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Wivenhoe Diary
Many thanks to Wivenhoe News for helping to source these dates
1 - 30 April, James Dodds exhibiting at Over the Sofa Gallery, Wivenhoe Bookshop
11 April - 10 May, Jarman's Dungeness, an exhibition by Andy Brooke celebrating Jarman's vision 20 years on, Wivenhoe Library
11 April, Wivenhoe Watching Wildlife Springwatch, Sailing Club, 7:30 - 10pm
12 April, WTFC Vs Thetford Town, Broad Lane, 3pm
12 April, Wivenhoe Ferry Fundraiser, the Sailing Club, 7:30pm - late. Live music from Strings Attached, DJ and curry meal. Tickets £12 from the Bookshop.
13 April, WivGigs, Come and Try day
15 April, Moving Image, Enough Said, William Loveless Hall, 7:30pm
17 and 18 May, Wivenhoe Open Gardens, various locations around the town
17 - 20 April, Beer Festival at the Black Buoy pub; 20 plus guest beers and ciders, food, live music.
19 April, Farmer's Market, Congregational Hall, 9:30 - 12:30pm
19 April, Easter Workshop for children, age 5 - 12, St Mary’s, 2pm - 3:30pm
21 April, WTFC Vs Stanway Rovers, Broad Lane, 3pm
23 April, Italian Literature, start of a five week course with Giovanni Colacicchi, Wivenhoe Bookshop, 2:30 - 4:30pm
23 April, Wivenhoe Film Club, Bicycle Thieves, The Nottage, 7:30pm
24 April, poetrywivenhoe, Allison McVety, The Legion, 8pm
24 April, Funny Farm Comedy Club, Andrew O'Neill, Cricket Club, 8pm
25 April - start of Wild About Wivenhoe month. Various events centred around the Wildlife Garden. Full details to be published... when known!
25 April, Transition Town Wivenhoe Spring Event, open-air bicycle-powered cinema, bar, evening food, all at the Wildlife Garden
26 April, Watching Wivenhoe Wildlife Dawn Chorus Walk, meet at 5am in the train station car park
26 April, Transition Town Wivenhoe Spring Event, Art and Photography Exhibition themed around the Wildlife Garden, William Loveless Hall
26 April, Bird Walk with Richard Allen, Sailing Club, 10am
29 April, Moving Image, All is Lost, William Loveless Hall, 7:30pm
2nd May, Wivenhoe Society Talk, Richard Moulson, CBC Ranger: 'History and Management of Colne Nature Reserve, Wivenhoe Woods and Ferry Marsh, The Nottage, 7:30pm
3 May, WTFC Vs Diss, Broad Lane, 3pm
9 May, Watching Wivenhoe Wildlife, presentations about wildlife in gardens, and gardening for wildlife in Wivenhoe Library, presented by John Rowland, Glyn Evans & Chris Gibson
13 May, Moving Image, Nebraska, William Loveless Hall, 7:30pm
14 May, Wivenhoe Town Council Annual Meeting, William Loveless Hall, 7:30pm, all welcome.
16 May, Shipyard Studios, Inside Out, Keel House, 5 Walter Radcliffe Road, 3pm - 8pm
17 - 26 May, Shipyard Studios, Inside Out, Keel House, 5 Walter Radcliffe Road, 10am - 5pm
17 May, Watching Wivenhoe Wildlife, Moth Trapping and Bat Watching, Wildlife Garden
18 May, Watching Wivenhoe Wildlife, Moth Trapping - the reveal!
20 May, Moving Image, Saving Mr Banks, William Loveless Hall, 7:30pm
15 June, Watching Wivenhoe Wildlife, Wildflower Walk in the gravel pits behind the cricket club, 11am
29 June, Jazz on the Quay, 1pm