MORPETH’S new £18million health centre is set to open its doors in 2013.
Plans to build the facility on the site of former care home The Mount at Mount Haggs Field have been formally approved by the region’s strategic health authority, NHS North East.
Construction work on the new centre — which will include GP and primary care health services along with diagnostic testing such as x-ray machines and ultrasound scans — will begin in January 2012.
It will provide new premises for two of the town’s GP practices, Greystoke and Gas House Lane, enabling their 11,000 patients to have access to modern healthcare facilities. The health centre also offers the opportunity for integrated working for the staff and patients of Morpeth’s third GP practice, Wellway.
Dr Richard Glennie, of Greystoke Surgery, on King’s Avenue said: “Everyone at Greystoke is very pleased at the prospect of moving to a new purpose-built health centre.
“We will be working closely with our NHS colleagues and our patients to make sure we have a smooth move across to the new building.”
Dr Fred O’Neill, of the Gas House Lane practice, which is currently based on the Morpeth Cottage Hospital site after it was flooded in September 2008, also spoke of his delight that the centre has received the green light.
He said: “Everyone in the practice team has worked very hard to bring this plan to a reality, especially since we were so badly affected during the floods.
“We would like to thank our patients for their understanding over the past three years while we have been in temporary accommodation and to ask them for their continued patience during the move to the new premises.”
Dr O’Neill added: “We’re looking forward to moving into a new modern health centre and having the benefit of very close access to other health services for our patients.”
The need for a new NHS centre was agreed after extensive public consultation during 2007, which asked how local health services could be improved for people living in the town and surrounding areas.
During the consultation local residents said that they welcomed the proposal for an NHS Centre in Morpeth with a range of diagnostic, outpatient and primary care services.
Dr Alistair Blair, who is a GP at Morpeth’s Wellway Health Centre as well as being GP lead for Northumberland’s clinical commissioning group, welcomed the plans.
He said: “After the initial proposal to develop a plan for a health centre in Morpeth and the Mount Haggs Field site was found we invited members of the public to help shape the final plans.
“More than 200 people from Morpeth and surrounding areas attended drop-in sessions organised by the local NHS — and changes were made to the building layout and grounds as a result.”
“This is the only health centre that is being planned for the town and we’re really pleased with the prospect of having a new modern centre which will ensure that the people of Morpeth and surrounding areas are provided for over the next 25 years.”