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Fakenham 'healthcare campus' plans

PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:17 07 July 2010

Chris Hill

Ambitious plans have been submitted for a £5m “Community Healthcare Campus” which would integrate vital services for Fakenham's growing population.

The scheme to replace the town's existing practice on Greenway Lane, approved by NHS Norfolk's board last month, is one of two applications which have been made to North Norfolk District Council.

Ambitious plans have been submitted for a £5m “Community Healthcare Campus” which would integrate vital services for Fakenham's growing population.

The scheme to replace the town's existing practice on Greenway Lane, approved by NHS Norfolk's board last month, is one of two applications which have been made to North Norfolk District Council.

It features a modern surgery on a five-acre site between Clipbush Lane and Thorpland Road, at the eastern gateway to land earmarked for an 800-home expansion of Fakenham.

If approved, the practice would combine three neighbourhood healthcare elements into a single “hub”, with GPs and nurses working alongside adult social services and community health visitors. It would also feature a day surgery unit where visiting consultants could carry out minor operations which would currently require a hospital trip to Norwich or King's Lynn.

A separate plan has also been submitted for healthcare developers Medcentres to build a 48-bed care home, a 48-child nursery, and a 350sqm gym and health club at the same site. This plan was drawn up in response to “identified local shortfalls” in provision, and could create up to 40 new jobs.

The combined proposals have been made under the NHS's “bold and ambitious” agenda to concentrate healthcare services closer to the homes of those who need it.

John Fraser, chief executive at Fakenham Medical Practice, said: “It is a very exciting project. We have got an ageing population and most of our patients live in a seven or eight-mile radius of the practice, so bringing care closer to home should benefit everyone.

“There is a practical element to it too. In the past, GPs may not have known what care package was in place for a particular individual because they did not use the same recording system.

“If a GP can just go up or down a floor to spend five minutes talking to social services or a community health worker about a particular patient, it just helps so much more. I know we have phones and emails, but it is going to be so much easier to be co-located in the same building.”

One wing of the three-storey Y-shaped building would become the day surgery, built to hospital specifications for infection control.

Mr Fraser said the surgery could be used for minor operations, such as cataract or vasectomy procedures, which did not require general anaesthetic.

“People can still go to Norwich or King's Lynn to have these procedures but the costs are that much higher to the PCT if it has to be done in a hospital,” he said. “And by taking these procedures out of hospitals, you free up beds for those procedures which can only be done in a secondary care setting.”

The planned centre would also include 13 GP consulting rooms, including two training rooms, preparation and recovery rooms, dispensary, pharmacy and an out-of-hours clinic.

Mr Fraser hopes to win planning approval within three months, allowing work to begin in July and services to be relocated in summer 2011.

An open evening will be held at Fakenham Medical Practice on May 10 at 7pm to discuss the plans with patients.

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