Doctors surgeries in Seaford are at ‘full capacity’ and need a new health hub to continue in future, GPs told Lewes councillors this week.
On Thursday (June 27), Lewes District Council’s scrutiny committee heard details of the authority’s plans to build a new health hub next to the Downs Leisure Centre in Sutton Road.
The proposals, which are still in the process of being drawn up, would see the council build a heath centre and rent it to Seaford’s two GP practices – Old School Surgery and Seaford Medical Practice.
In considering the proposals councillors heard from Jess Haines, the council’s head of commercial business, as well as Dr Daniel Elliot and Phil Abbott of the Seaford Medical Practice.
Dr Elliot, who was also speaking on behalf of the Old School Surgery, said: “Both Seaford practices are at full capacity.
“The size of the treatment rooms we have got [at Seaford Medical Practice] are not fit for purpose and the nurse treatment rooms are approximately 50 per cent the size of what would be regarded as the minimum requirement for NHS nurses.
“In a nutshell, there is no space to offer any increased range of services at all.
“The two practices are hugely grateful to Lewes District Council for their active and practical support in looking to ensure health services in Seaford are fit for purpose going forward.
“I think without this support the health care offering in Seaford will decline in the near future and all the partners at both practices believe that the proposed health centre is the only realistic and viable solution.”
Councillors also heard the site earmarked for development is currently a football pitch, but was expected to be replaced as part of the project. This would be down to planning policies, officers said.
Opinions among councillors were split on how the scrutiny committee should proceed.
Seaford South councillor Sam Adeniji (Con), who had called the matter in to scrutiny along with his fellow ward councillor Christine Brett (Lib Dem), said the whole project should be halted for further examination.
He said: “I have been campaigning for the past seven years for improvements in health services in Seaford.
“However, the proposal as it stands now does raise many questions that haven’t been answered, both in discussions I have had with residents and in correspondence I have had with this council.
“The main issue for me is that Seaford is losing a valuable green space and with green spaces, once they are gone, they are gone.
“We need to be sure that this is the right thing to do, that it is the right way to do it and that this is the best approach to do it.”
He added that the scrutiny committee should appoint a working group to examine the project in further detail and for it to be put on hold while they carry out this work.
The proposal did not prove popular with other committee members, including Seaford East councillor Julian Peterson (Con) who argued against delaying the project.
Committee chairman Johnny Denis, said putting a halt to the project was not something scrutiny members could request.
However, he said it would be right for the committee to look into the project as ‘a critical friend’ to ensure it was proceeding correctly.
As a result, the committee agreed to establish a task group to examine the scheme, particularly the loss of the playing space and the potential impact on the local economy.