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GPs turn down offer of rent-free practice premises

A group of GPs has turned down an offer of taking on new practice premises for a ‘peppercorn’ rent as it does not fit with their long-term plans.

GPs at Manningtree’s Riverside Health Centre in Tendring, Essex, say they are not interested in a satellite surgery proposed by local councillors, but will need larger premises for future expansion.

Dr John Hoskyns said parish council representatives approached them with proposals for a satellite service to be hosted in the 135-home development in the neighboroughing village of Mistley.

Dr Hoskyns said: ‘The strategic vision is actually to build a large premises which will accommodate probably two or three practices, working the whole area, and a little branch surgery over in Mistley isn’t going to work.’

Tendring councillors offered the flexible unit on the Harwich Road development in Mistley at a ‘peppercorn’ rent to the Manningtree practice.

Tendring councillor Alan Coley said: ‘What we hoped to do was provide a satellite surgery, bearing in mind the centre of the parish is moving.’

Controversial residential builds in the Manningtree, Lawford and Mistley area are expected to bring an additional 1,200 homes into the region in the next four to five years.

Residents opposed the plans on Harwich Road, claiming that over-development in the region raised highways safety issues and increased demand on local resources. There are currently three GP surgeries in Manningtree, Lawford and Ardeley.

Councillor Carlo Guglielmi, who contacted Riverside a year ago, said: ‘With all the proposed development that’s already been given permission, there will be a huge strain. 

‘You don’t get someone offering you a freshly built dwelling to be used for medical purposes very often. We’d have thought that they’d snap our hand off.’

Mr Guglielmi added: ‘We’re all aware of the national strategy of the NHS to set up health hubs. But you’ve got to work with the means at your disposal.’

The councillors also reported a positive meeting with representatives from NHS North East Essex CCG.

Mr Guglielmi said: ‘We will be knocking on the CCG’s door to understand where they’re at and we might just go to the other two surgeries directly.’

Dr  Hoskyns said Riverside Health Centre is in discussions with developers regarding plans for a larger site for expansion.

However, he said these plans are longer-term and do not expect any movement for at least five years.

He added it was unlikely that CCGs would be interested in a satellite surgery.

Dr Hoskyns said: ‘The numbers don’t add up, strategically it’s not what is being worked towards.’

The 5,500-patient surgery in Manningtree recently joined forces with 11 other local practices as part of The Colte Partnership, creating one of the largest super practices in the UK covering over 118,000 patients.