GP anger at decision to kill off new Stevenage surgery site
A plan to build a new doctors’ surgery to replace an outdated and cramped facility has flat lined after Stevenage Borough Council reversed its decision to sell the proposed site.
A scheme to construct a surgery in Shephalbury Park for GPs and patients at the Shephall Way Surgery can no longer go ahead after councillors decided not to sell the land at a private planning meeting.
The decision angered GPs who have been in talks with the council, North Herts NHS, and a developer for 18 months, with a full business plan, building design and funding approval from the Primary Care Trust in place.
In a letter sent to councillors seen by the Comet, GP Brian Rouse said the surgery had worked alongside the authority to select the site and had received “positive pre-application” feedback from planning officers. But at what he called the “eleventh hour” members had intervened.
He said: “Stevenage Borough Council has inexplicably reversed its decision to sell the site and has effectively put a halt to the new surgery development.”
He continued that the practice was “very disappointed” with the decision which will delay benefits to patients while an alternative site is sought, and warned funding approval would not be in place indefinitely given planned changes to the NHS.
In a swipe at councillors, he added: “The surgery is out of date and the need for its replacement has been confirmed and documented for the past ten years. The practice has a solution - now delayed by your intervention - that means we could move to a new surgery with the facilities to offer and extend an improved standard of care to your constituents.”
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An earlier option, Ridlins End, is now being looked at as a potential site for the surgery.
Council leader Sharon Taylor said members were doing their job to provide residents with the best possible option.
“Members raised the issue about public transport to the Shephalbury site, and the fact there’s a doctors’ surgery in Longmeadow. If the surgery moved there, there would be none in the main part of Shephall. Members suggested the Ridlins site be reconsidered.”
Dr Rouse’s colleague Andrew Cormack said: “We had looked into all the options – travelling, car parking, everything, and to be told that they wanted us to look at a different site was just too much.”
But he added he understood a new surgery is a sensitive issue and the practice would continue working with the council to achieve its aim.