Countdown begins for new health centre

RIGHT ON TIME: A trial of the bus service route proved a success on Monday.
RIGHT ON TIME: A trial of the bus service route proved a success on Monday.

The construction of Sudbury’s new health centre is moving into its final phase with just three months to go before the building is due to be complete.

A clear sign of the progress being made came on Monday when a bus navigated its way around the centre in Church Field Road in a trial run for future services.

It is just over a year since work first started on the £10million facility, with the building set to welcome the transfer of the town’s health care services.

Peter Clifford, chairman of Watch – Working and Acting Together for Community Health – said the layout surrounding the centre had allowed a 12.6-metre bus to be safely driven around the site.

“The trial went extremely well,” said Mr Clifford. “The bus was bigger than the ones currently used in the area, which are just over 10 metres long, but this is the future of buses and we wanted to make sure it would work and that the layout is future proof.”

Mr Clifford said it was important that residents could easily access the centre, which will home services provided by Walnuttree Hospital, Acton Lane Clinic, St Leonard’s and Siam GP Surgery.

“We want a regular bus service throughout the day and are in negotiations with local bus companies,” he said. “At the moment, things are looking promising.”

Attempts to replace the outdated Walnuttree and St Leonard’s hospitals in the town have been on the agenda for three decades.

Although the health centre has had numerous false starts, Mr Clifford said the building was on schedule to open later this year, with the Siam Surgery providing a pharmacy service.

“The colour panels are going up, as is the render, and grass is starting to be laid,” he said.

A spokesman for the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissioned the centre, said he was confident the building would be delivered on budget.

“The building of the new community health centre is progressing well,” he said.

“People in and around Sudbury will soon benefit from this important new facility, which will house health service provision for the area.

“This project could not have reached its current stage without the ongoing support of everyone involved, especially the local community.”