September 11, 2008

Demolition Call As Surgery Reaches End of Natural Life

A Surgery could be demolished and rebuilt after failing its medical.

Health officials say the branch surgery at Coelbren is so out of date it needs to be replaced rather than upgraded.

It is open four mornings a week and offers a wide range of services provided by GPs from the Dulais Valley Primary Care Centre in Seven Sisters.

Critically, the surgery also dispenses medicine because of the village's rural location and because public transport is not good enough for patients to get to other areas in a reasonable time.

Neath Port Talbot Local Health Board's primary care and partnership director Hilary Allman said: "The Coelbren branch surgery provides a much-valued service to a rural community, albeit from an inadequate and deteriorating building."

She said the surgery had outlived its natural lifespan by many years and needed to be replaced rather than upgraded.

Mrs Allman said Powys LHB, which owned the land and the building, had indicated it was prepared to sell the land to a developer for a replacement to be built, or to lease the land to an appropriate body.

Various options are now being discussed, including the provision of a modular building, or a privately developed surgery that would be leased back by the GPs - as has happened with all new health centres in Neath Port Talbot.

"Concerns have been raised that this development is very small, compared to normal primary care centre developments, and this tends to restrict the interest," said Mrs Allman.

"However, some very informal discussions with existing developers in the area have revealed some interest, and therefore this is an option worth pursuing."

Once the preferred option has been agreed, a bid will be made to the Assembly for funding. Mrs Allman said there had been consultation with residents, community representatives and health organisations.

"It is very clear the community is very much opposed to any cuts in services, but would welcome any sort of option that retains services in the area," she added.

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