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Darzi centre in car park set for closure

A Darzi centre hailed as a top performer on patient experience despite being located in a car park is facing closure after failing to help ease the burden on local A&E services.

NHS Suffolk will make a decision on the proposed closure of the GP-led Crown Health Centre in Haverhill at its board meeting on March 28. .

The centre, procured under former health minister Lord Ara Darzi's controversial Equitable Access programme, was opened in temporary accommodation in 2009 after being granted only temporary planning permission.

The centre was hailed last year by NHS Suffolk for achieving joint first position nationally for levels of patient satisfaction in the national GP patient survey.

But it failed to achieve its dual objective of reducing attendances at A&E departments, with the PCT recently launching a public consultation on its future after it became clear that A&E attendances had not reduced, and no cost-effective permanent location had been found for the centre.

Explaining the plans on its website, NHS Suffolk said: ‘Despite the best efforts of local healthcare professionals, A&E attendances have not reduced and no cost-effective permanent location has been found. Annual running costs are in excess of £1.2 million.'

Martin Royal, NHS Suffolk's director of corporate services said: ‘The NHS has limited resources and they must be used wisely. Healthcare services are already widely available in the area, with local excellent GP practices providing a minor illness and injury service and local pharmacies providing invaluable advice on self-care at home.'

The move comes two years after Pulse revealed how the centre was the first in the country to agree to a reduction in the terms of its contract after The Practice plc - the private firm running it - accepted it was hugely overpaid for walk-in consultations. 

A spokesperson for The Practice said: ‘Following discussions around the lease at the Crown Health Centre, a decision will be made by NHS Suffolk at its March board meeting.'

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