HH response to Waveney Local Plan – September 2017


HH is a small charity with trustees from the health and care professions, the voluntary sector and from the public. Its aim is to preserve and future proof health and care services in and around Halesworth.

The clear message from the local plan proposals is a large increase in population in Halesworth. The concern is that healthcare services will not cope with a 25% increase in population. It would be good to see the demography of the area improve with more young people and families, but it’s vital that facilities and services match the needs of the range of age groups, particularly for healthcare and education.

We cannot agree with the Waveney Plan statement that ‘the town benefits from provision of most essential services and facilities.’ Currently health and care services locally have been reduced or threatened and are struggling to cope. The CCG are now addressing this situation and we look forward to positive progress.

Halesworth, with a disproportionately elderly population, is almost 30 miles from the acute hospitals, with journeys taking an hour each way by car; for those using public transport the journey involves train and bus and takes half a day. Thus local services are essential.

Patrick Stead Hospital beds have been closed prior to the planned Castlemeadow Care nursing home being built, in which the CCG have agreed there will be NHS funded beds. There is currently no admissions prevention or out of hospital service available to healthcare professions in Halesworth, meaning that it’s either a struggle to keep people at home or patients are being admitted unnecessarily to overburdened acute hospitals. Discussions are now however taking place to hopefully amend this situation in South Waveney.

Outpatient facilities have been reduced, and consultant clinics in Halesworth have currently ceased.

The excellent Rayner Green Resource (day) Centre, which cares for people often with severe disability and dementia, allowing them to live longer in their own homes, and preventing hospital admissions, is under review, with currently reduced numbers of people allowed to use it.

If the population increases to this degree Cutlers Hill Surgery will need to expand to cope. The local plan mentions an extension to the surgery, which is welcome, as long as funding is available and as long as enough doctors and nurses are working there. The main difficulty currently is finding enough GP’s for Halesworth. This is likely to worsen with increasing numbers of GP’s approaching retirement, and is a regional and national problem.

Castlemeadow Care’s proposals are welcome and will help to achieve integrated health and care locally. There is no nursing home in Halesworth. The new facility will, in addition to nursing and residential beds, have high level dementia care in accordance with research based evidence. There will also be, in addition to the NHS funded community beds for people who don’t require acute hospital beds, NHS outpatient facilities in a ‘community hub’ within the facility are proposed.

Castlemeadow Care will also build and run ‘accommodation with extra care’ on the site in conjunction with their nursing home.

We are very supportive of the Halesworth Campus plans to develop and improve sport and leisure facilities, in conjunction with the skills centre. There are enormous benefits to both physical and mental health from this, and Halesworth’s current sport and leisure facilities are very restricted. The development will encourage less obesity, especially in children; physiotherapists can extend their range of support through gym facilities; pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise aiding recovery from cancer, chair based exercise for those with disability, yoga and pilates, are other examples of potential benefit. Cycling routes locally are much needed, and essential to be in place to and from the site. In the longer term a swimming pool would be hugely beneficial for health.

Another enormous benefit will be the skills centre training. The proposed construction, and sport and leisure training will offer great opportunities for local young people. In addition it is hoped and intended that there will be healthcare training in conjunction with the new Castlemeadow Care facility. This is vital for the area now and in the future.

There will also be an increased need for volunteers, often very rewarding psychologically for people taking part.

All of this integrated healthcare will work well in conjunction with the proposed information and support centre, adjacent to Cutlers Hill Surgery, for which planning has already been granted. This will be a centre for people with life changing illness in Halesworth and surrounding towns and villages, and their carers/families, to be built and run by Halesworth Community Nursing Care Fund.

In summary it is vital that local healthcare services are restored now to their former state, which has provided excellent integrated care over the years. When the population increases it is vital that the facilities for health and education are then expanded to appropriate levels for the benefit of this rurally isolated population.