The clock is ticking on a project to relocate a Newmarket GP practice to the town’s hospital site which is said to be at a ‘crucial point’ and could take much longer than first anticipated.
In August last year the Journal reported that Oakfield Surgery, which cares for more than 7,000 patients, could be operating from new facilities at the hospital from April 2018.
But that deadline now seems unlikely to be met despite officials being told six years ago of the intention to sell the site occupied by the GP-owned practice for housing development in March of this year. Now urgent meetings are going on between practice representatives and officials from local and regional health bodies to try and finalise the move.
Oakfield senior partner Dr Simon Arthur is due to retire in April and plans to redevelop the practice’s current base in Vicarage Road for housing are well-advanced. They are currently being considered by the local planning authority and have recently been revised following objections from the town council and Historic England.
Amanda Lyes, chief corporate services officer for West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “A lot of work has been going on to find a solution not only to re-house Oakfield Surgery but also to have a wider range of health and social services located on one site, a patient centre hub, at Newmarket Community Hospital.
“Incorporating Oakfield into that space is our number one key objective."
Last year the CCG was awarded £1.1 million to convert the hospital in Exning Road into a health and social care hub.
“We would hope to be able to expand the current services and make more effective use of the hospital site,” said Ms Lyes.
“A study of how the space at Newmarket Hospital is used and could be used, was received by the CCG just before Christmas. The idea is to create an integrated hub for patients, one which uses our available infrastructure both efficiently and effectively.
"Firstly we need to look at the impact this might have on other services, and work with partners on how it might be achieved in finalising wider health and social care system plans for the site.
“The project is at a crucial point – however we will make sure the surgery’s patients continue to have access to doctors and nurses when they need them.”