POLITICAL hopefuls have criticised Basildon Council plans to build a new GP surgery inWickford – claiming it would do little to ease the town’s GP crisis.
As part of town centre redevelopment plans, Basildon Council is planning a multimillion- pound surgery on the site of Wickford’s indoor market.
The centre would be used by the GP practice currently based in London Road, with the new building accommodating six doctors and three practice nurses.
However, neither the council nor the NHS has given assurances about what facilities the new centre might offer to justify the expense and disruption of the move.
David Harrison, who is standing as Ukip’s candidate in Wickford Park ward at the May 22 borough council elections, said: “This is not what Wickford was promised. An opportunity has been lost to upgrade the existing health centre right opposite the market into something which would benefit the whole of Wickford.”
The present London Road surgery has five doctors and three practice nurses crammed into its building.
In the failed £100million Wickford Masterplan, which finally fell through in 2010, a brand new health centre was mooted.
Another site, elsewhere in London Road, and the former Toyota dealership site, inGolden Jubilee Way, were both considered, but ruled out by the council.
Mr Harrison said: “Wickford has been misled for years on a promised ‘mini-hospital’ in the masterplan.
“Now all we are getting are pre-election rushed ideas and cosmetic tarting-up of the High Street by a dying administration”.
Alan Ball, Ukip’s candidate for Wickford Castledon ward, added: The council is supplying the land and the building.
“Should not the NHS be coughing something up? This is a scandal. It makes the council look good at election time, but it is not good in the long term.”
The council has said the NHS would pay it back, by leasing the new clinic and paying rent.
If the clinic gets planning permission, building work could begin on the northern end of the site in September, with the building due to be ready by October 2015.
Under the plans, the market would be moved to a new site in the High Street – something about which some traders are unhappy.
Malcolm Buckley, councillor responsible for regeneration, – and sitting Tory councillor in the ward where Mr Ball is standing for Ukip – said: “Over and above everything, we really need more doctors in Wickford and better access for residents to health services.
“It is our expectation it will offer a wider range of NHS services.
“London Road is a dilapidated surgery and it was not suitable for modern NHS services, Relocating it will improve the quality of service to patients.”