Here is a summary of the position regarding Seaford Health Hub outlined by LibDem councillor Maggie Wearmouth.
The lease for Old School Surgery is with private providers and runs out in 2021. That for Seaford Medical Practice is with the NHS Property Services. Many allied professionals in community teams, plus those working for the mental health trust and link workers from East Sussex County Council have very limited accommodation in these buildings and also feel that the accommodation is affecting the quality and scope of the service they provide.
So it has been obvious for some time that health services in Seaford are at breaking point and new accommodation is urgently required. It is the role and responsibility of the Eastbourne Hailsham and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group to provide or commission health services in Seaford. They remain in financial special measures and have limited course of action at present.
The current plan, approved by the Conservative Cabinet, has approved funding for the Downs Leisure Centre Health Hub which involves more than £1 million from council funds and a £17 million loan from the Public Works Loan Board. As central government funding for councils reduces, so councils have to look to more commercial sources for sustainable and reliable income.
There are no plans for a Minor Injures Unit, X-rays or Urgent Care centre. I am told that there could be parking space for a mobile MRI scanner unit and space to house a community Diabetes team. There is no funding for extra health professionals, but the CCG would pay extra money to GPs surgeries if their patient numbers increased (capitation fees). The counter argument is that by improving the work environment, staff morale, retention and recruitment would be enhanced.
It is argued that promoting health, lifestyle and wellbeing need the GP facilities to be co located with the Downs Leisure Centre. I challenge this as I believe that social prescribing eg a course of pilates classes for backache instead of pain killers should at least be subsidised by the CCG. Where those classes take place is less relevant than the support given by the CCG to such initiatives. I was directed to a video on the CCG website, but it does not mention finances. I have also asked the LDC project officers for examples of other places where Health Hubs have been tried but they have not yet provided this information. Those that I have found myself include award winning community centres or rooms for private rental by therapists such as the Integrated Centre at Herstmonceux: none involve gyms.
Many people we have spoken to have concerns about the loss of the green space football pitch at the Downs and the loss of the much loved over sixties Club. We share those concerns, especially since the green spaces at the Newlands development may not be available for 4-5 years (my question to the Town Clerk in a recent Town Council meeting).
Our counter proposal is as follows:-
Keep Seaford Medical Practice where it is but move out the community teams from the half of the building they occupy. Work with Seaford Town Council to construct a building on waste land owned by LDC as part of the Richmond Rd car park but rarely used for parking. House Old School Surgery, community teams and community dental clinic there. Consider building over the corner of the Salts (owned by STC) to house new STC council offices / community hall / cafe with view over the Salts and towards the sea. Replace old Scout hut in another part of the Salts.
In this way, facilities that are really needed could be provided, keeping the facilities in central Seaford whilst still ensuring a good commercial return on investment. The downside is parking provision, but this is very much a concern about the Downs project and no assessments have been made about the impact of parking or footfall in central Seaford if both GP practices are moved.
We will continue to question and challenge the decisions made until we think that the people of Seaford are getting what they deserve at an acceptable price.
So - we want to represent and stand up for Seaford residents, we want much more transparency and democracy in the way council decisions are made and we want to protect green spaces and services that are valued by residents.