A pioneering £5m project to create a flagship health facility could be opening its doors in King’s Lynn.
The new centre will offer 24-hour healthcare along with a minor injuries unit and minor surgery.
But there are concerns that the relocation of an existing GP surgery to the new site could cause problems for some patients.
The current St James’ Medical Practice would relocate from its Georgian building on County Court Road to allow expansion, recruitment and the addition of new services.
In the first scheme of its type, the new centre would be jointly funded by both the NHS and West Norfolk Council and the site would either be off Kilhams Way or on the opposite side of Edward Benefer Way.
“We have completely outgrown the premises which has poor access and no parking. It is at the end of its life.
“We want to develop a modern set-up and GP-owned surgeries are no longer affordable nor practical. This is also not a private finance initiative and is using government money,” said Dr John Galloway.
But members of the St Margaret’s with St Nicholas Ward Forum are concerned about the move.
“There have been assurances that there will be plenty of parking at the new site, but will there be sufficient?” said a letter from the ward chairman Dr Julien Litten.
Who added that many patients currently walk from the ward to the surgery, but a relocation would prohibit that option for some of the older residents.
Dr Galloway said the move would be vital for a growing population needing modern facilities.
West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney said he was in full support of the move could be used as a blueprint across West Norfolk for delivering primary healthcare.
“You have to think about future needs of the community. It is all very well for those of us who have a GP surgery to not worry. But we have a growing population and to have this fabulous new facility would be absolutely beneficial.”
Dr Galloway said that his practice was at full capacity with 16,500 patients and, in line with other surgeries, struggled to recruit new medical staff to the area.
“It is difficult for surgeries to compete with modern, well-equipped facilities when it comes to recruiting new staff. Our current building is 250 years old,” he said.
“Doctors usually have to create a partnership in order to create a practice and that means partners paying-in to fund the building. That is no longer the way forward .”
Work on the new centre could be complete in 18 months and a modular design will allow further additions over time.
The minor injuries unit will be open to those who are not registered with the practice and it would also offer out-of-hours cover.
The plans include the addition of an optician, dentist, endoscopy unit, physiotherapy, chiropodist and minor surgery unit.
“It would be the first of its type to be created with this sort of financial partnership and will be a real asset to the community,” said Dr Galloway.
He said there had been ‘a good deal’ of negativity, about the proposal but he was certain patients would see the benefits.
“We have to get away from the idea of a desk and prescription practice with one or two doctors. It just doesn’t work that way any more.”
Dr Galloway said he wanted to reassure patients that it would be a good move.