Uplands Medical Centre in Whitefield could close for 18 months - affecting thousands of patients (From This Is Lancashire)
Uplands Medical Centre in Whitefield could close for 18 months - affecting thousands of patients
THOUSANDS of patients could be forced to move from their Whitefield GP practice to Radcliffe because of the poor state of its building.
Around 8,500 people are on the books at Uplands Medical Centre, off Bury New Road, Whitefield, and they might have to travel to portable buildings in Church Street West, Radcliffe, for at least 18 months.
Health bosses have indicated the building is in such bad shape that it needs up to £5 million worth of renovation.
They have given the green light for that work to take place, but have yet to decide on how patients will be cared for in the meantime.
People who attend the practice have blasted health chiefs for keeping them in the dark about the problems and Bury Council’s health representative, Cllr Rishi Shori, said he would monitor the situation. One patient, who lives in the Church Lane area of Whitefield, said: “I can’t believe my local medical centre could be closing for 18 months and they haven’t even bothered to write to me to warn me.
“It will be inconvenient to have to travel to Radcliffe to see a doctor. I would rather see a doctor in a falling-down building than have to go 18 months in a tin hut that’s miles away.”
The Guide discovered the information in a document published by Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has been managing the borough’s health services since a major national shake-up in April.
The document is a report to the CCG’s governing body about the performance and risk of its services and buildings.
The paper uses a “traffic light” system to illustrate the severity of items and the information about Uplands is labelled red, or high risk.
It says: “A condition survey was done at Uplands in summer 2012 and it highlighted up to £30,000-worth of high-risk issues, which need to be addressed within a year.
“All of those tasks have been completed and statutory requirements have been addressed.”
The document adds: “A development scheme, with an estimated cost of £4 million to £5 million, has been agreed in principle, but this would take around 18 months.
“Proposed short-term contingency plan options include...occupation of a wing at Radcliffe Primary Care Centre.
“(Uplands GPs) are reluctant to relocate here but recognise it may be necessary as an emergency measure and portable building rental or purchase.”
Cllr Shori said: “It sounds like an unfortunate situation and it is one that I will monitor.
“Ultimately, this will be good news for Whitefield because thousands of people will gain access to modern health facilities after the work has taken place.
“I think if you ask most people if they are willing to tolerate 18 months of inconvenience in exchange for that, they would take it.”
He also said the CCG should be given the benefit of the doubt about the time it has taken to address the issue as it only came into being in April.
It is not the first time the centre has been at the centre of controversy.
In July, 2008, health chiefs tabled plans to replace Uplands with a modern facility, but Bury Council turned down the proposal on the grounds that it was inappropriate for a conservation area.
Medical bosses promised to come up with a more acceptable proposal, but never did and drew criticism from Bury South MP Ivan Lewis.
Mr Lewis said, at the time: “I am not prepared to see Whitefield get left behind as we see the success of the new Radcliffe centre.”
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