A SENIOR politician has praised a resort health centre as a model for the NHS to follow.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP paid tribute to the Whitegate Health Centre while attending the Labour Party’s North West conference at the Winter Gardens.
Mr Burnham has called for a greater integration of different healthcare services and says the centre on Whitegate Drive fits the bill perfectly.
He told The Gazette: “I came here to open the centre in 2010 and I remember that very clearly.
“That is a model of how the NHS could go in the future, with modern buildings in the community.
“Mental health needs a bigger slice of the cake and I’d like to link services together.
“Places like that are what we need to do that.”
Mr Burnham took particular time to single out the mental health services offered by the £20m centre as an example to the rest of the country.
The Whitegate centre contains a wide range of services including X-ray, MRI, a pharmacy, outpatients appointment, minor surgery, physiotherapy and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
It is one of three centres of its kind in Blackpool, with the other two based in North Shore and South Shore.
Mr Burnham said: “Everybody’s living more stressful, isolated and changing lives and that has big implications.
“Mental health is the big issue of the 21st century and why that matters for a town like Blackpool is there are a lot of people who are getting away from things.
“They come here because of their memories of the town and for that reason you do see higher levels of drug abuse.
“People can be in A&E with mental health problems being disruptive through no fault of their own and I think the time has come to make a decisive change in terms of our application of resources. I think of [Whitegate] as the model for the NHS going forward.”
Mr Burnham opened the centre in 2009 when he was serving as Health Secretary during the last Labour government.
Following the Coalition assuming office after the 2010 general election Mr Burnham was initially chosen as Shadow Education Secretary before moving to his present role in a reshuffle last year.
Coun Ivan Taylor, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “I agree with Andy Burnham – it’s a fantastic facility.
“It took a lot of courage for the Primary Care Trust in Blackpool to create these facilities and they’re now proving their worth.”