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"Get on with it" health bosses told over Teignmouth delays

Tuesday, 16 April 2024 13:10

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

The proposed Teignmouth health and wellbeing centre (Image: KTA Architects Ltd)

Doctors say town needs wellbeing hub

Health bosses in South Devon have been urged to get on with building a vital health hub in Teignmouth.

The new health and wellbeing centre was given the go-ahead by Teignbridge Council last year, and local doctors say the town needs it urgently.

But NHS Devon says the project has been delayed by issues with planning and soaring costs as well as uncertainty surrounding the future of the town’s existing hospital.

It says inflation has doubled the cost, and developers could be reluctant to start work if there is a risk the NHS plans for Teignmouth could be overturned by government.

No building work has started, and the leader of the council has fired a broadside at NHS Devon in an effort to kick-start it.

“I would urge the NHS to get on with it and get building,” said Cllr Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish NE). “It is desperately needed by the doctors in Teignmouth.”

The new £11 million facility in Brunswick Street will bring GP services, healthcare and voluntary sector services under one roof. The application has been controversial because it is happening alongside proposed closure of the Teignmouth Hospital.

The NHS says the community’s needs will be better served by the new complex, but it has been referred to the government by objectors.

The council already owns the land, where existing buildings will be demolished to make way for the new three-storey centre which would include consulting rooms, treatment areas, offices and a ‘pandemic suite’.

The town’s community hospital in Mill Lane is due to close, with its services moving to Dawlish Hospital and the new health centre.

The comments came as members of the Teignbridge overview and scrutiny committee reviewed progress on a number of major local projects.

Cllr Ron Peart (Con, Kingsteignton East) said the Teignmouth situation had reached an impasse.

Cllr Wrigley said the delay is ‘inexplicable’  and went on: “I have been asking officers to find out what the impasse is, but the answer is that we don’t know until the NHS comes forward and explains it.

“We have heard how urgent it is for the doctors to house their practice, but we are still waiting for the NHS to come forward with the next move.”

He suggested the NHS may want to renegotiate the price it is paying for the plot.

“The NHS makes some really bizarre decisions about its property services,” he said. “I can only assume they are falling over themselves with internal bureaucracy.

“The land is agreed, the price is agreed, it is theirs for the taking. We just really want a signature on a piece of paper.”

A spokesperson for NHS Devon said: ”Our ambition was always to build a new health and wellbeing centre in Teignmouth bringing together GP services, health and care and voluntary sector services under one roof. We have been working on this with partners across primary care, secondary care and the voluntary sector for a number of years.

“The project has been delayed by a range of factors including a protracted design development period and issues with planning, as well as the referral to the secretary of state. Teignbridge District Council also recently voted to write to the secretary of state about the project.

“Uncertainty always makes delivering projects more difficult with developers and funders, and there is financial risk in proceeding with a multi-million-pound build project if the decision that allowed us to move the most-used outpatient clinics from Teignmouth Hospital to the health centre could be overturned by the secretary of state as a result of a referral process.

“The pandemic had a major impact on supply and demand in the construction sector, leading to unprecedented construction and market inflation. The costs for the project are now more than double the original estimate. The significant rise in cost makes the project harder to deliver and discussions about the final financial arrangements for this project continue.”

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