Bitter pill as patients left in limbo

Moor Park Health Centre in Bispham
Moor Park Health Centre in Bispham
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ANGRY Blackpool GPs today demanded an inquiry after a contract delay postponed their move to a new £15m health centre.

Thousands of patients in Bispham and North Shore have been written to after their local surgeries closed - only to hastily re-open.

This week should have seen the long-awaited opening of Moor Park Health Centre in Bispham as doctors moved into state-of-the-art consulting rooms.

But a delay in signing the facilities contract for the North Shore Surgery meant the move was put on hold and thousands of letters issued to patients advising them of the delay.

Surgery bosses said a further letter – advising them of the new moving date – will also need to be sent out, at a cost of thousands of pounds more to the taxpayer.

The partners of the North Shore Surgery – one of the three set to move into the new facilities – today hit out at primary care trust (PCT) NHS Blackpool.

They told The Gazette: “The situation is very unfortunate for our patients as the issue causing this delay was completely avoidable.

“Over the last nine months, the practice and other parties have been trying to work as a team on the issue of service charges. But we have met with resistance and been unable to communicate effectively with the estates department at the PCT.

“If there had been more open discussion at an earlier stage, the whole situation could have been avoided.

“It will need three letters to be sent to patients – two of which were unnecessary.”

The Moor Park development has been five years in planning.

Developers say it will revolutionalise health care bringing the GP surgeries, a sports centre with swimming pool, four badminton courts, a fitness suite and aerobics studio under one roof.

It will also house a new library and computer facilities for local people.

More than 20,000 patients are expected to be treated in the complex as three doctors’ surgeries are brought together.

The Glenroyd on Devonshire Road, Ashfield Surgery on Ashfield Road and the North Shore Surgery are all set to relocate into the new building.

North Shore Surgery has three sites, one on Holmfield Road, one on Red Bank Road and one at Bispham Road.

The Holmfield Road and Bispham Road sites closed their doors on Friday, but were forced to reopen in a hurry on Monday after staff were told of the delay.

They are now looking to move in on July 4, but the GPs have demanded answers.

They added: “We will be requesting an official inquiry into why the process went wrong. This is important as the delay will cost the taxpayer a significant amount of money in unnecessary administrative costs.

“Moor Park is an incredible facility combining health and leisure on one site – it is almost unique in the country.

“The practice is keen to move and want to continue working in a positive way with the PCT for the future benefit of all.”

Dr Amanda Doyle, medical director, NHS Blackpool, today described the delay as a “minor” one.

She added: “Moor Park is a state-of-the-art development bringing together health, leisure and recreational facilities under one roof for the first time in Blackpool. This is a good news story for the local community.

“There has been a two to three day delay in signing the lease which has resulted in one of the three practices – North Shore Surgery – relocating two weeks later than planned.

“Patients from North Shore Surgery obviously needed to be informed and this has resulted in one additional letter being sent to each household concerned.”

Assura, the development company confirmed any issues with contracts had now been resolved.

Tom Cooke, property development manager, said: “Practical completion at Moor Park was reached on June 13.

“Today we can confirm Assura has completed the lease to Blackpool PCT, and the PCT has completed the underlease to the doctors.

“Subsequently, procedures are in place for the GPs to complete their move in the next few weeks.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys who is a patient at North Shore surgery added: “I’m sure patients will be as confused as I am by these events.

“I hope the problem can be successfully resolved without recourse to further expensive mail-outs.”

The leisure centre side of the development is due to open with a free weekend on July 2 and 3.