86,000 reasons why Norwich must keep walk-in health centre

Timber Hill Health Centre Timber Hill Health Centre

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
11:44 AM

Pressure is being put on health bosses to commit to the future of Norwich’s walk-in centre, as it emerges the service could be asked to move out of its rented base in September.

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The future of the Timber Hill Health Centre was thrown into doubt this week after Castle Mall unveiled plans for a new restaurant quarter in the area of the shopping centre where it is based.

Castle Mall owners InfraRed want to attract six restaurant businesses into the Timberhill entrance area, but that means relocating the health centre to another part of the mall.

The lease for the walk-in centre, which treats 78,000 patients a year and has a growing list of 8,000 registered patients for its GP services, has not been renewed and is due to run out in September.

InfraRed says it is in discussions with the Timber Hill Health Centre, which is run by Norwich Practices Limited, to move it from level four to a “larger and more central site” on level two near the post office.

A spokesman said: “We recognise the important service that Timber Hill Health Centre provides to the people of Norwich and, in September 2013, began discussions with its operators regarding a possible move to a larger, more central and accessible site within Castle Mall on expiry of their lease.

“The proposed site would be custom-fitted to Timber Hill’s specifications and we have had several meetings with its operator.

“We retain a desire to keep the health centre within Castle Mall and have offered to make a significant contribution to the costs of the move and fit-out of the new premises. Our proposal ensures a continuous service is offered to patients as the transition from the current to the new premises would only happen once the new location is ready to open.”

But Katie Norton, director of commissioning for NHS England, said the decision to move had been rejected by the centre, because of the cost.

“We are very disappointed in the decision of the owners of The Mall not to renew the lease,” she said.

“We recognise the important services provided by Timber Hill Health Centre and we are committed to working with Timber Hill and the clinical commissioning groups in Norfolk to identify options for the future. It is important to recognise that Timber Hill is a purpose-built medical centre and moving it will cause considerable disruption.

“At this time, the option of moving to an alternative location in the Mall has been rejected by Norwich Practices Limited on the basis of the significant additional cost...”

She said she was disappointed that InfraRed had submitted a planning application for the area used by the health centre without consultation.

Dr Tesh Patel, clinical director of Timber Hill Health Centre, said: “Our immediate priority will be to ensure both walk-in patients and patients registered at Timber Hill Health Centre have a continuous primary care service.”

The health centre cost £2m to open in July 2009. It employs 90 staff and has younger registered patients than many other GP practices, as it was aimed at providing health services to some harder to reach sections of the population. It serves a high number of men aged 15-45.

Paul McCarthy, Castle Mall general manager, said: “We are in a position to offer them more space in a better location on level two, and we are very keen to work with them and do a deal.

“We have been talking with our tenants, who are Norwich Practices Limited, for some considerable time and some of the conversations have also involved NHS England.”

Both Norwich MPs, Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, and Simon Wright, Lib Dem MP for Norwich South, are calling for a solution to be found. Mr Wright has written to Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, asking for him to intervene and to give a commitment to continuing the service.

Do you have a story about how the city centre walk-in centre has helped you? Contact health correspondent Adam Gretton on 01603 772419 or email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

9 comments

  • I don't care where the walk in center is, just get it out of a shopping mall, it was the most ridiculous idea ever, if you need to use it at weekends parking is an absolute nightmare :(

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    catalonia13

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • As usual our 2 city MPs are as much use as breaking wind in a thunderstorm."A solution must be found".There's decisive leadership for you.

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    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • i agree with norwichlad23 points and he is 100% right, the way I look at it is this people mainly use the other entrances which with other factors mean timberhill is not used as well as it can be so therefore you would think the health centre helps the area, right? Wrong. From what I believe is that the health centre doesnt help the overall income of the shops and I would happily see it move out of the castle mall as it would be better for all involved . If they do stay in there why not try the old george store in the mall. I just think that "86,000 reasons for it to stay" is a bit extreme and as norwichlad23 pointed out the health centre should move to help the castle mall as it needs something as it's not what it used to be. Finally, I think there (health centre) making a big fuss other businesses have closed and some moved there is nothing stoppingthem doing the same. End of.

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    zg

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • If the Health centre didn't want to be kicked out after 5 years then they should have pushed for a longer lease. Surely the cost of moving to another level in the same shopping complex with financial aid is significantly less than moving to a different location entirely.

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    martin

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Haha saw what you did there archant "86,000 Reasons" Exaggeration???), Well its not staying there on level 4 thats for sure!

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    norwichlad23

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Bring on the Planning Application rejections cause people living nearby will Complain of the noise when people are sitting outside at Night.

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    che bramley

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • yep agree with norwichlad23, that entire area of the mall is dead and they need to move to allow redevelopment.

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    Mooseyt3

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Well said Norwichlad - hopefully the NHS wont waste money trying to debate a situation where there is no debate....the centre needs to move as the lease is not being renewed.

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    KeithS

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • This just gets better and better.... A health centre shouldn't be allowed to stop evolution, Its been there for 5 years its lease has expired and InfraRed needs to redevelop level 4 to get Castle Mall back on track. The managment have offered to offset the largest costs of the move (A very generous offer that some would not have even offered) to one of the larger units on level 2 (next to the post office) but as usual NHS thinks they can sit back and dictate. Anyway InfraRed owns the CM so they have the right to submit applications at will. They don't have to consult and the health centre has been aware of a threat since september 2013 so they can't say they weren't warned. I've I was in charge it would be quite obvious the malls owners were looking to redevelop the area hence the suggestion to move once the lease has expired which it has ironically now. This part of the mall was kind of always destined to be devoted to Leisure and the sooner its all completed the better.

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    norwichlad23

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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