HealthSpace scheme 'needs patience'By Hugh Fort
April 30, 2012
A much-vaunted project to provide a state-of-the art health facility providing NHS and private services has been delayed yet again, this time until the autumn.
The HealthSpace project is included in NHS Berkshire’s ‘Shaping for the Future’ consultation, which is due to be launched in the autumn.
Health bosses say it makes sense to include the project in the wide-ranging plan to shape the future of healthcare across Berkshire.
The public consultation will gain views on what services people want and need locally, to make the best uses of the health service’s increasingly dwindling resources.
Helen Mackenzie, director of nursing for NHS Berkshire, explained: “NHS Berkshire sees the proposed Bracknell HealthSpace as an integral part of its Shaping the Future programme to reshape local health services.
“It makes sense to incorporate HealthSpace proposals within the broader public consultation covering East Berkshire as a whole. This work is ongoing – at this stage we anticipate the consultation taking place in the autumn.”
The project has already been held up due to issues with paperwork from Ashley House, the company responsible for the building.
Councillors in Bracknell are growing increasingly fed-up at the uncertainty surrounding the project.
Councillor Tony Virgo, who chairs the authority’s health overview and scrutiny commission, said he was sure the project would go ahead, but admitted there was no indication of when.
He said: “We know the issues before were to do with money, which seemed to have been solved.
“But now the plans have been taken back by the Strategic Health Authority and put back into the Shaping the Future, which is the overarching consultation into the future of healthcare in the whole of Berkshire.
“It’s very frustrating to all of us.
“We have an intelligent population in Bracknell Forest.
“They’re not stupid, they will become increasingly suspicious if this keeps getting delayed.
“My view is it will happen, we don’t know when and I would urge the people in charge to come out and say what they are doing and stick to that as soon as they possibly can.”
The £20 million project was given permission in December 2010.
It was hoped at the time it would open this year, but the various delays mean this will not happen.
Concerns have also been raised about a lack of parking at the site in Skimped Hill Lane, which means users will have to park in Bracknell town centre’s public car parks and walk.
Once it is built, the plan is to include services like GP surgeries, urgent care, diagnostics, audiology, dentistry, X-ray and mental health services for adults and children.
However, this could change following the consultation.