Campaigners feel their hopes of seeing a new integrated health care centre serving the Blacon community have been ‘crushed’.
They say improved health facilities have been promised for more than 10 years because the huge housing estate does not have the range of services it needs.
It had been hoped to create a new integrated centre within the £19m Parade development, which would have incorporated Western Avenue Medical Centre and a branch surgery for The Elms Medical Centre which mainly serves Hoole patients.
Services could have included enhanced consulting and treatment rooms, minor surgery areas, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, sexual health, mental health and smoking cessation.
But the project has now been pulled after failing to recover from a decision by Western Avenue Medical Centre to withdraw from the scheme at the 11th hour in 2004.
Laura Marsh, NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s director of commissioning, delivered the bad news.
She said: “NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group has worked tirelessly with NHS England and the developer to try to find a solution for the Blacon Integrated Health Centre.
“Unfortunately, all potential solutions have been exhausted and the development is no longer being considered as a potential facility for healthcare provision.”
One glimmer of hope is that talks are now taking place with a developer about the possibility of including a GP surgery in a proposed 280-homes scheme off Clifton Drive but controversially the site is in the Chester flood plain.
Ms Marsh explained: “An alternative option is being pursued for the provision of GP care in Blacon. As part of a planning application for a development off Sealand Road, discussions have commenced with the developer who propose to provide a GP branch surgery on the new site with parking.
“This could be a replacement for the Blacon Integrated Health Centre and would provide a full range of primary care services for Blacon residents.”
Gus Cairns, chairman of Blacon Health and Wellbeing Group, is desperately disappointed.
He said: “Blacon Residents have been involved for over ten years in promoting better health facilities in Blacon. Blacon has 14,000 residents and only one GP practice and a branch practice. We have some of the worst health statistics in the City of Chester and a life expectancy ten years less than the best in Chester.
“We are saddened by the false promises by the former PCT, CCG and NHS England at a time when health inequalities and the demand on A&E services continue to grow.”
Mr Cairns added: “There may be valid reasons for the failure of health officials to deliver the health centre, however to take over ten years to announce the failure leaves a lot to be desired and a bitter taste in the mouths of residents whose hopes have been raised and then crushed .
“The Blacon Health and Wellbeing Group is calling on health professionals to work together and with residents to improve the health outcomes for residents in Blacon and we look forward to regaining public confidence through a positive dialogue about the future of health services in Blacon.”