New GP surgeries could open to planned Asda store for Longton
A MULTI-MILLION pound health complex could be built in part of Stoke-on-Trent.
NHS Stoke-on-Trent is looking at building one primary care centre to house a number of GP surgeries operating in the Longton area.
Details of the talks have emerged after The Sentinel revealed Asda wants to build a new supermarket on a site which includes the existing Willow Bank doctors’ surgery, in Trentham Road.
Now health leaders are looking at moving Willow Bank and a number of nearby practices into one primary care centre.
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Doctors and community leaders today welcomed the move as a long-awaited modernisation of Longton’s health facilities.
They say Longton would at last start to rival similar centres which have already risen in the north and centre of the city.
In the past two years, primary care centres have opened in Tunstall, Middleport, Cobridge, Shelton and Burslem.
But in the south of the city only Fenton has had a new primary care centre. A similar centre is about to open in Meir.
At the same time Burslem has Stoke-on-Trent’s only walk-in centre at the Haywood Hospital.
The Longton project would be funded by Prima 200, the Local Improvement Finance Trust which acts as a partnership between the NHS and the private sector.
An NHS Stoke-on-Trent spokesman said: “We have been exploring options for a new primary care centre in the Longton South area with Prima 200, which includes Willow Bank Surgery.
“We have held initial discussions with Asda, but we are also exploring alternative sites.
“Detailed planning has been undertaken over the last 18 months and this is progressing.”
No locations have been finalised for any new centre, while the names of the other affected surgeries have not been revealed.
Lightwood North and Normacot councillor Bagh Ali, pictured below, said: “It would be wonderful to have four or five surgeries under one roof and in the most ultra-modern facilities around.
“This is just what Longton needs.
“Some of the other surgeries are in big townhouses built generations ago and while services in them are good, those buildings are no longer appropriate for practising modern medicine.”
Mr Ali, who is chairman of the adults and neighbourhoods scrutiny committee, which covers health, added: “It is also difficult for patients at many of the existing practices to park.”
The seven-GP Mayfield practice, which is also in Trentham Road, has already expressed an interest in moving to the new centre.
Senior partner Dr James McCarthy said: “We are giving it only a cautious welcome for the moment because over the past 10 to 15 years so many other similar schemes have been talked about but never materialised.
“One involved expanding to bring in a training suite so we could become a teaching practice with operating rooms but the Highways Agency stopped it.
“Doctors in our area feel schemes in the north of the city have had priority so it is good that the south seems set to get a slice of the pie.”
Asda plans to create up to 400 jobs by building a new supermarket.
Existing businesses have been given two years to leave the site, with a planning application expected early next year.