Opinion: Norwich needs a walk-in centre

Timber Hill walk-in centre. Timber Hill walk-in centre.

Friday, May 9, 2014
3:18 PM

It is a rare occasion when all of the main political parties agree. But there is one NHS subject everyone is unanimous on – Norfolk’s only walk-in health centre must stay in the heart of Norwich.

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Since a question mark was raised over the future of Timber Hill Health Centre two weeks ago, I have been inundated with emails and letters from patients who rely on the service.

Patients have voted with their feet since the centre opened in Castle Mall in 2009.

News last week that NHS England has made a commitment to a walk-in centre somewhere in the city centre is very encouraging news – if the facility has to move from its current home on level four of the shopping centre.

The health centre has become a valued place for people living and working in Norwich and for patients outside the city because of its long opening hours seven days a week.

But in hindsight, was a five year lease long enough? And was a shopping centre the best place for the health centre?

The end of Timber Hill’s lease and Castle Mall’s restaurant quarter plans mean that the centre will either move to temporary buildings in Norwich or move to a larger site on level two, if an agreement can be found to overcome refit costs.

If NHS chiefs had made a longer-term commitment to a walk-in centre contract, we would not be in a position of taxpayers’ money being used to pay relocation and refit costs five years down the line.

More than 75,000 patients use the walk-in centre a year, which has a two year contract extension with NHS England. However, where that will be in Norwich is still up in the air and subject to further negotiations.

The centre was designed for patients who find it difficult to access mainstream GP services, but it has also eased pressure on A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which has seen a year on year increase in emergency admissions.

Timber Hill Health Centre is such a well-used facility, a long-term commitment to its future from NHS chiefs is an absolute necessity.

8 comments

  • Castle Mall is a good site, central to the main hub of buses on Castle Meadow, so in theory you could get to it without having to stress out about joining the queue of shoppers trying to find a parking spot and not all have access to cars so the Dussindale site was a nightmare to get to. The NHS has to look long term rather than the "suck it and see" 5 year contract. And if the Castle Mall feels it's new restaurant "quarter" will be so successful maybe they will have the social responsibility to the citizens of Norwich as to help out more financially with the move and refit!

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    Rivergirl

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

  • yes we need a walk in center but not in a shopping mall, the most stupidest idea ever, on the rare occasions I've needed it parking was a nightmare, queued for ages, and the place was full of families clearly out shopping yet 'needing' to pop in whilst they were there. Dussindale was perfect

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    catalonia13

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

  • The thing is it would take in the space of a week of 24 Hour around the clock solid work, to get the place looking half decent and rather attractive with the use of a quality presure washer, white floor grout, black Gloss and light green exterior metalpaint British Standard Mortar, further paints and stuff e.t.c I would go so far as to say I would help them out with the labour... As long as the Castle Mall remains in a dirty unloved state it will never ever compete in some form with Chapelfield and will remain a large community version of Anglia Square - Harsh but true.

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    norwichlad23

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • The damming thing is that after Castle Mall was sold from its original owners to the Mall fund the standards of the centre as a whole marketing, maintance e.t.c just went right down the drain and subsequently that lack of effort and desire to keep Castle Mall at the forefront of retail and leisure offering in Norwich was lost. From then onwards no new high end tennants like those that defected to Chapelfield opended up in Castle Mall which is slap bang in the centre of Norwich. The Mall Funds answer to the Chapelfield problem primarily was to slap a cheap and poorly incorporated floor across the top floor of the main gallery to extend the foodcourt as it is called now. This clear sign of stupidty and low grade design would only attract certain tennants and whilst this was great for the foodcourt or the Mall Kitchen as it was called once the work had been completed. It was too much of a turn off statement and the lack of basic mantainace of the exterior elements of the mall too, to the tennants that would help to ensure the long term financial success and security of the Castle Mall Shopping Centre.

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    norwichlad23

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • the ex George shop has stood empty for several years? it is a very large shop behind a small entrance, nobody wants it, huge rent and huge business rates Mall cant find a tenant so they are forcing walk in centre to fill it! Clever move from their view. Restuarants were on the 4th floor before and they all closed due to lack of business. Chapelfield can you find some space!

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    gismo

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Its a bit like Roads build more and they are full up with cars and motor vehicles !

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    Albert Cooper

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Within the last two days scafolding has been erected at various locations around the timberhill section of Castle Mall, No doubt preperation works for the big build! Castle Mall needs to see some decent builders again. Kier Construction who carried out the alterations that recked Castle Mall whose workmanship was poor compared to those who worked on Castle Mall under "Bovis Construction".

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    norwichlad23

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • "But in hindsight, was a five year lease long enough? And was a shopping centre the best place for the health centre?" - Finally someone who write's the articles has picked up upon this.

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    norwichlad23

    Friday, May 9, 2014

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

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