COLNE: plans for £10m. new health centre for Colne abandoned

HEALTH bosses have abandoned plans to build a £10m. state-of-the-art health centre in Colne.

At a meeting of the board of NHS East Lancashire, it was announced the development would be unaffordable in light of the harsh economic climate and tight NHS finances.

The four-storey health centre had been earmarked for the former Kwik Save site in Craddock Road, replacing the existing centre in Market Street.

As well as providing five GP practices, it had also promised to accommodate services such as podiatry, orthoptics, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and house an ambulance response team.

But chief executive of the Local Improvement Finance Trust Jackie Hadwen said the NHS could not afford to proceed with the planned development, especially considering the PCT’s own uncertain future.

“We cannot go ahead with the locality development programme as we had hoped, and must restructure our efforts to reflect our financial position while still meeting local health needs.”

The proposed health centre in Colne is one of three LIFT developments to have been scrapped. The others were in Clitheroe and Great Harwood.

Together they would have cost NHS East Lancashire £2.7m. a year.

Health chiefs have been forced to go back to the drawing board to come up with affordable plans which meet the needs of residents.

Chief executive of NHS East Lancashire Steve Spoerry said: “I am disappointed we have had to take this decision. We will now get everyone around the drawing board and consider what can be achieved with the finances with have.

“The more money we spend on building work, the less money there is to spend on services, and we are not willing to compromise the services we provide.”

Health bosses have suggested a number of alternatives for the rejected building in Craddock Road, including leasing it out, selling or demolishing it.

Instead of investing £10m. on a new health centre, they have suggested building a smaller facility in Colne or improving the existing centre in Market Street.

Mr Spoerry said: “We are keen to engage with Pendle Borough Council, local GPs and members of the public to evaluate our options and come up with a sustainable long-term plan for health provision in Colne.”

Colne councillor Tony Greaves has welcomed the chance for discussion before a final decision is made. “We are still upset they have dropped the proposal for a supersized new health centre. But we recognise that with the abandonment of all the existing proposals in Colne, Clitheroe and Great Harwood, there is now everything to play for.”

The final decision on the future of Colne’s health care is expected to be made in April.

Coun. Greaves said: “Of all the three places promised a new health centre, Colne has far and away the greatest need. We have six months to persuade health bosses that Colne must be their number one priority.”