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East Lancashire new health centre plans ‘positive’
CALLS have been made by MPs to end the silence over plans to develop three new health centres.
Since being passed by chiefs at NHS East Lancashire in October 2011, little information has been issued about the LIFT projects at Clitheroe Community Hospital, Colne Health Centre and Great Harwood Health Centre.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said there had even been widespread talk in Great Harwood that ideas on their new centre had been scrapped.
But NHS East Lancashire has now stated that there is ‘positive progress’ on the scheme and that information will be made public in the near future.
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said: “It is important people are kept informed of what is happening with these plans, because the public is paying for them.
“I want to see this investment come to the Ribble Valley. We need a state-of-the-art, 21st Century facility.”
In 2010, the scheme was suspended because health chiefs did not think the PCT would be able to afford the £28million private finance initiative repayments.
However, in October 2011, a ‘Locality Development Programme’ was set up, which found by reducing the scale of the schemes, new build centres could be delivered for £10.3million, with the existing centres and surrounding lands owned by the trust sold to offset their cost.
It was announced that a 4,000m2 hospital facility would be built next to the existing hospital in Ribblesdale, a new 2,500m2 health centre will be built in Colne, and a new 1,700m2 health centre will be built on the Albion Mill site in Great Harwood.
Jackie Hadwen, of NHS East Lancashire, said: “Positive progress is being made on all three schemes and the PCT is finalising arrangements for making its plans public and talking to people about them.
"The engagement exercise will be launched in the next month.”
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “There is a real need for a new health centre in Colne – a town with health inequalities such as infant mortality rates.
“It must be considered how far Colne is away from Blackburn and Burnley hospitals, and unless something is done, patients will go to Airedale and government money will be lost because of it.”
Mr Jones said: “The current centre is overcrowded and cramped, so I am pleased to see that the capital reserve is still available and the possibility of a new health centre remains on the cards.
"I will continue to push for this much-needed health centre.”