Questions need answering over Hucknall 'super' health-centre plans, says town Labour councillor

‘Questions must be answered’ over plans for a multi-million pound new super health centre for Hucknall, says one of the town’s councillors.

By Martin Hutton
Monday, 4th July 2022, 9:29 pm

Coun Keir Morrison (Lab), who represents Hucknall South on Ashfield District Council (ADC), says it is ‘no secret’ his home town’s health provision is ‘in crisis’.

Earlier this year, the Dispatch laid bare the extent of this, reporting NHS Digital figures that revealed GPs in the town each have a patient pool of thousands, with some dealing with more than 4,000.

With the town pinpointed for thousands of new homes, plans to boost health provision include a new Cavell health centre with services all under one roof.

Coun Keir Morrison and Piggins Croft Car Park which has been pinpointed as the project's location

But the location pinpointed, part of the town’s Piggins Croft car park, has sparked frustration, with many residents suggesting their are better potential sites.

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Hucknall's Piggins Croft car park confirmed as first-choice site for new health ...

Coun Morrison said: “The Ashfield Independents are planning to bulldoze our surrounding greenbelt for more houses in and around the town, putting further pressure on our infrastructure.

“This will have catastrophic consequences unless capacity is improved.

Coun Keir Morrison says proposals to build in Misk Hills are outrageous and the town needs to say enough is enough

“On the plans for the Cavell centre, I have a number of questions which have, so far, gone unanswered.

“Where will this new centre be built?

"Piggins Croft has been suggested but if that’s the case the town will lose much-needed town centre car parking.

"Also, how much would ADC stand to gain as a capital receipt for selling or leasing the land?

Coun Keir Morrison will challenge the council this week over the loss of parking that would be caused by building the health hub on Piggins Croft

"What’s more, who is paying for the new centre, how much will each authority contribute and what funding is available?

“Any new facility has to be right for the town, in the right location with the right values and principles.

"For example, is this new centre going to be run as a private health business which puts profit before patients’ needs?

“If there is a recruitment issue in attracting GPs to work in Hucknall, where will these be found for the new centre?

"And what impact will this have on existing GP surgeries?”

Coun Morrison has now called on the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Hucknall’s MP, Conservative Mark Spencer, and the leadership at ADC to answer these questions and ‘reassure the public’.

He added: “I’m certainly not against a new health facility, in fact I welcome it.

"However, it’s crucial that these questions are answered before any decisions are made.”

The Dispatch has contacted the CCG, Mr Spencer and the ruling Ashfield Independents at ADC for comment.

Coun Dave Shaw (Ash Ind), a Hucknall member of ADC, said: “Make no mistake, if it wasn’t for Ashfield Independent councillors fighting for the new health centre, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

“Time and time again we have raised this with health bosses since we were elected to the district council in 2019.

"We are committed to ending Hucknall’s health crisis and this new super health centre will play a huge role in that.”

An Ashfield Independents spokesman also gave answers to Coun Morrison’s questions.

On the point of location and loss of parking it was said: “Talks are ongoing and a Cavell centre programme board has been set up. This is made up of health bosses and officers from Ashfield District Council.”

On capital benefits and whether the land will be sold or leased:

"At the moment this is unclear but we will be happy to announce this when details are clearer.”

On how the finances and costs stack up:

“At present, the only people to have committed to this new centre are Ashfield District Council. We have committed nearly £1million and part of the discussion with health bosses is how much the Department of Health will cough up. The programme board are currently working with partners like Nottinghamshire County Council to relocate other health provision into the new centre like mental health services.”

Expanding on the location issue, the spokesman said: “We’ve always been very clear that any new centre should be in the heart of Hucknall. That’s why we believe that Piggins Croft is the right location.”

On Coun Morrison’s flagging of whether the centre might be run privately:

“We are against the privatisation of health services – a road the Conservative Government want to take us down. We are in negotiations with various public sector organisations including the library service.”

Considering a struggle to recruit GPs to the town, Coun Morrison asked how this would be overcome.

The spokesman said: “This is something that Coun John Wilmott (a Hucknall Ash Ind member) raised with the CCG on Monday. The Conservatives promised 6,000 more doctors in general practice and 6,000 more primary care professionals, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists in their General Election manifesto of 2019. They also promised another 50 million extra GP surgery appointments – this has not happened.

"We share Keir’s frustration as the Tories have let us down – the amount of doctors has gone down. We are confident however that our lobbying for extra resources will be successful and we will be able to adequately staff any new facilities.”

In terms of the impact on existing GP surgeries, the spokesman added: “This is subject to the work of the Cavell Centre programme board and subject to ongoing negotiations with the existing practices.”

An NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire spokesperson said: "National capital funding is in place for the potential new purpose-built health and wellbeing building that aims to offer the citizens of Hucknall a range of joined up health and social care services.

"The site for the new centre is to be agreed and any site will require a planning application and approval before it can go ahead.

"Workforce plans include developing a range of additional roles to support the Primary Care Network e.g. community paramedic, clinical pharmacist, social prescriber, clinical navigator and these roles will support general practice staff to ensure people receive the care they need.

“We understand councillors wish to discuss these plans in more detail and we are working closely with all of our partners on this very important work."