The long-awaited plans for a major expansion to the Diss Health Centre are “over the next hurdle”, following significant progress in discussions with NHS England.
The facility, located on Mount Street, has submitted a formal business case aiming to iron out the details on an extension proposal that initially obtained planning approval back in 2013.
Dr Ian Hume, who has worked as a GP in Diss for more than 20 years, said the centre still faced numerous challenges, but was handling the pressure on its services despite concerns about a rising population.
Dr Hume told the Diss Express: “Clearly, a lot of our patients have concerns about the ability of our health centre to deliver services already because of the increase in growth.
“What I would like to see is a health centre that is fit for the future, that can provide a greater range of services, which fits in with NHS England’s five-year view.
“I think we are much closer than we were. The project has progressed and we are meeting with the NHS area team to discuss how these proposals will move forward.”
This confirmation comes after a presentation last Wednesday by retirement housing provider McCarthy & Stone outlining future plans to construct 40 homes on land behind the health centre, which was met with concerns from Diss town councillors about the potential ramifications for the health centre.
Dr Hume said it was important for south Norfolk’s local development plan to take healthcare considerations into account, with Diss Health Centre having already reduced its service area to cope with the demand.
“I think we do need to be smart about health joining up with local planning positions. Local requirements should be built into planning,” he said.
“We need to be aware of future growth and the needs of the Diss population in the next ten years.”
He added the main challenges the centre was currently dealing with were a lack of investment in practice infrastructure, an increase in overall workload and a difficulty in recruiting GPs to the area, and explained he was hopeful the planned improvements would help to alleviate these issues and encourage further development at the facility.