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Step forward for Diss healthcare plans

PUBLISHED: 10:42 02 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 12 July 2010

Long-running plans to improve healthcare in Diss have moved a major step forward after a land deal was agreed that could see the expansion of the town's main medical centre.

Long-running plans to improve healthcare in Diss have moved a major step forward after a land deal was agreed that could see the expansion of the town's main medical centre.

A scheme to extend the Diss Medical Centre was given planning permission two years ago, but stalled as a result of ongoing negotiations between GPs and South Norfolk Council.

But the proposals cleared a major hurdle this week after district councillors agreed to a land swap deal for the facility in Mount Street.

Officials from the medical centre, which is owned by two GP practices, are now in a race against time to submit a funding bid to Norfolk NHS before planning permission runs out later this year.

South Norfolk Council's cabinet met in private on Monday to agree the deal to allow the surgery to build on the local authority's car park in Mount Street. In return, new parking spaces would be created next to the council's existing Shelfanger Road car park.

Councillors and health officials yesterday welcomed the news with guarded optimism and said there were still many hoops to jump through.

The owners of Diss Medical Centre - the Parish Fields Practice and the Lawns Practice - are set to submit their business case to Norfolk NHS in September - two months before planning permission runs out.

Simone Johnson, practice manager at the Parish Fields Practice, said that Diss “desperately” needed better access to health services and hoped that townsfolk were not given another false dawn. A funding bid for grander plans for a £2m upgrade was rejected by the local PCT five years ago.

Tony Palmer, local town and district councillor, gave a cautious welcome to the latest decision, which cabinet officials said was made in private because of “complex and sensitive negotiations.”

“It is good news that this proposal has taken another step forward and progress is being made. But there is a long way to go, and we must remain realistic as well as optimistic. I know everyone involved has been working very hard to get this right and we want to thank them for that. We should wish the GPs well, as they take this project to the next stage,” he said.

Ian Hume, from the Parish Fields Practice, added: “This represents an important milestone in the project which will bring us closer to final sign off from NHS Norfolk and a start on building. We still have much work to do, and challenges to face, not least because of the more difficult financial climate that prevails.”

The expansion could see the creation of ultrasound and X-ray facilities, bolstered family planning unit, and enhanced care for minor injuries in Diss.


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