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Health warning on funding as 8m wellbeing village signals new era in Cookstown

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Health warning on funding as 8m wellbeing village signals new era in Cookstown thumbnailOaks Family practice

THE face of health services in Cookstown are set for change following last week's announcement in the Courier that a new 8million Health and Well Being Village is in the pipeline for the town.

The proposed site for the "village" is Loy Street and will involve local GP practices, the Northern Health Board and investors.

But while the multi-million cash injection is a welcome tonic for Cookstown, the proposal does come with a heath warning on Health Board funding.

Holywood-based Cubic3 and a significant UK Primary Care Investment Fund are the main investors along with development firm MACD (NI) LTD.

According to Cubic3 the main practices in Cookstown will be relocating to inside the facility, although still remaining as separate practices. They are Oaks, Dr Graham, Loy Medical and Cookstown Health Centre.

In a joint statement the town's GPs said it was recognised that current health care facilities in Cookstown do not meet the future needs of the community.

The move to the new 1.3hectars site at Loy Street in the coming years will mean an end of an era as far as the Health Centre at Orritor Road is concerned.

The Health Centre has been playing a major role in health care provision in the Cookstown area for over 60 years.

In recent years plans had been mooted for a more comprehensive health hub at the Orritor Road site as the Health Centre is situated beside the Northern Trust Ambulance Depot.

A move to Loy Street in the next two years will leave a big gap at the Orritor Road site and it ponders a question as to what will fill the vacant site.

Following the announcement in the Courier last week, this paper asked the Northern Trust if the move would see an end to health provision at the Orritor Road site in the coming years.

A spokesperson for the Northern Health Trust replied: "The Health and Social Care Board is aware that GP practices in Cookstown have been in discussions with a private developer in relation to their relocation from current premises to a 'Health and Wellbeing Village' in Cookstown.

"The HSC Board has been informed that all GP practices within Cookstown town have expressed an interest in relocating to this Health and Wellbeing Village.

"The HSC Board is considering this application for the relocation (and associated reimbursement of additional rent and rates to the practices) in terms service need, patient impact, value for money and affordability."

While those behind the proposals are hopeful the centre will be operational within two years from approval of the economic case by the Health Board, a health warning has come from officials that in the end, it will all come down to funding.

The Health Trust spokesperson told the Courier plans for the new health hub would be reviewed in the future, but added that it was all "subject to the approval of an incoming Health Minister and confirmation of the funding envelope available to the Department".

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