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Monday, 19 January 2009


A public meeting organised by Darnall Community Forum on Tuesday 6 January has reassured members of the public about plans for a new health centre in the community.

The meeting addressed local concerns about the size of the new centre, and also one local general practice’s plans to relocate to a different building. Local MP Clive Betts said: “I have a pretty strong view about where Darnall's new community health centre should be built. It has to be easy for everyone to get to and ideally it should have room for all the local primary care services.

Simon Kirk, the Director of Strategy at NHS Sheffield, said: “ NHS Sheffield is not able to compel all local GP s to come together under one roof. Our priority is to create a new facility for the 21st Century, with a minor surgery suite, counselling rooms which could also be used by the community, an office base for the Darnall Well-Being organisation - a local charity - paid for by the Trust, and treatment rooms for services like podiatry and physiotherapy.

"We're not building a community centre, but we do want a great health centre that will be flexible and meet people’s needs. We have identified three sites where it would be possible to accommodate the centre - Staniforth Road , Station Road or Main Road . We are keen to gather the local community’s thoughts on these locations, including feedback from this meeting, as well as further community consultation, and then showing the community more detailed plans, before making a final decision.”

In response to a suggestion from Mrs Sylvia Hamilton , Chair of Darnall Forum, he said that he would consider asking the Forum to carry out soundings for the PCT with different community groups in Darnall. Mr Kirk went on to say that the new health centre should be open by the end of 2010.

Cllr Mary Lea said, "Darnall centre is where people come to shop, to visit the library and to drop into the forum, it’s also well served by buses, and we need to keep the centre of Darnall thriving – that’s why the Darnall councillors and Mr Betts would like the new health centre to be built in the centre. This isn't just a question that affects the health of the people in Darnall, it's vital to the health of Darnall as a community."

Speaking for the residents of the Littledale Estate, who would be the most adversely affected if the new Centre is built on Staniforth Road , Mr s Val Lancaster said: "We sometimes feel like the forgotten community." Residents of the estate pointed out that there was no direct bus service linking them to Staniforth Road .

Clive Betts added: "I think we may need a community gym on people's doorsteps to encourage them to adopt a more healthy lifestyle." He said that the government's 'Change of Life' initiative could help to fund a gym inside the new facilities.

Cllr Mazher Iqbal said that he believed Darnall Well-Being would be able to run a gym as a social enteprise. He said: "Darnall Forum could help them to set up a not-for-profit gym, and we, the councillors of Darnall, could work with the current administration to see if we can get things moving quickly so NHS Sheffield can take advantage of the recent drop in land values and construction costs."

Mr Kirk pledged to be creative in his thinking, "But I'm also trying to be entirely realistic," he said. "There's been a long history of people in Darnall discussing what they would like in a new health centre; now we've got to the point of deciding what we can actually afford, however, I will consider very seriously any proposals that are put to me."

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