Lord Markham visits Health Centre aiming to deliver enhanced clinical space for Thetford community

Lord Markham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, visited Thetford Healthy Living Centre on Friday (23 February) to see for himself how the building will continue to support health care in the local community both now and into the future.

The Centre, run by Norlife LIFTCo, currently hosts a range of primary care, diagnostic, mental health and outpatient services and lies within the Priory ward, which includes areas in the 10% most deprived in England.

Thetford is also the focus for significant new housing (with 5,000 dwellings planned to be built) which will generate demand for up to 11,000 new patient registrations over the next 20 years.

Following the current variation project, funded by NHS England, at the building, facilitated by Community Health Partnerships (CHP), 16 new clinical rooms will be available providing for 7000 new GP registrations. It will also lead to an expansion of the range of services being commissioned for local patients by the Integrated Care Board (ICB).

The changes are replacing former office and administrative areas on the first floor with much needed fully compliant clinical consultation rooms. There will also be three new GP rooms on the ground floor. Improved place-based access to disease prevention and wellbeing support and advice will reduce the need for planned out-patient care and unplanned visits to acute sites, which are costly and time consuming for those living across such a large geographical area.

The development will improve accessibility for patients with a second lift being added. Outdoors, the building’s sustainability credentials have been improved with the provision of electric vehicle charging. An added benefit of the updates will be enhanced recruitment and retention of staff as the new spaces offers state-of-the-art modern facilities.

Lord Markham visited the building alongside colleagues from the local Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB), Breckland Alliance Group, Simon Waters, Regional Director, South and East, for Community Health Partnerships (CHP) and Colin Mitchell, Portfolio Manager for the area for CHP.

The facility was opened in 2007 and its location, design and operational policies were heavily influenced by a local community panel. The building has been used as an exemplar for community engagement by the NHS. It has proved flexible in adapting to changing NHS demands, supported by strong local engagement from the Breckland Primary Care Network (PCN), and formed a key part of the local response to the pandemic, and this development work further reinforces its position as core NHS estate.

Thetford Healthy Living Centre is adapting to serve a growing community. We're honoured to showcase this project to Lord Markham, highlighting its flexibility and continued value as a core NHS asset. Seeing this project come to life has been incredibly rewarding and I’m thrilled to see its positive impact on patient access unfold.

We’re committed to ensuring that patients across the country have access to top-quality healthcare, and as part of our long term plan for our health service this £2.8m investment of NHS capital will foster integration of services and provide a modern and accessible healthcare facility that is fit for the future. “It’s fantastic to see the innovation happening in Thetford and how this clinical space has been designed to provide flexibility for health and care service provision for local patients, creating additional capacity to meet patient demand in the area

The refurbishment of the Thetford Healthy Living Centre is a strategic investment into the infrastructure that Norfolk and Waveney needs to be able to deliver better integrated health and social care within our communities. The Centre is already ideally located to support residents to access health and care services closer to home. With the newly created clinical spaces and accessibility improvements such as the addition of a second lift and expanded car park, it will provide capacity for services to grow to meet the demands for health and care services now and in future

On behalf of the PCN, I am so proud to see the benefits of this investment taking shape in this exciting new space. It’s been a long journey from the initial planning phase and we’re very much looking forward to working closely with the health and care organisations across our PCN to be able to use this space to deliver the services our patients need. “We will have the capability to book space for care services flexibly which will mean we can flex service provision to meet patient needs for integrated prevention, health and care services.

Norfolk and Waveney ICS press release is available on their website here.

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