The NHS has denied that internal conflict is stalling a new GP surgery as calls mount for the Government to step in.
At a cabinet meeting of Arun District Council last Monday, delayed plans for a GP surgery next to Morrisons in Wick were discussed.
Councillor Mike Northeast said Arun was prepared to sign the head lease for the surgery. But NHS England was reluctant for the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to sign the sub-lease, which was causing a delay.
The CCG is an NHS group which oversees local healthcare. These claims were refuted by a spokesman for NHS England, who said they had ‘not given any specific direction’ to the CCG about the lease, but were working with all parties to ‘explore any options’.
They added: “We would only anticipate that CCGs would need to temporarily take on a new lease for GP premises in exceptional circumstances and we have shared this advice with NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG.”
Fitzalan Medical Group and Westcourt Medical Centre plan to jointly run the surgery.
In response to NHS England’s claims, the CCG said: “We are committed to getting GPs into the Morrisons site in Littlehampton. Our role is to ensure that the population of Littlehampton has access to high quality healthcare now and in the future. We are working with all partners, including local councillors and GPs, to make this happen and we are applying pressure on national organisations to support and assist us in finding a long term solution.”
This comes as town councillor Dr James Walsh wrote a letter signed by his colleagues to Nick Gibb, MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
It asked Mr Gibb to lobby Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to get NHS England to change its rules about leases.
The letter said: “Given the understandable reluctance of GPs to take on leases themselves this issue needs directly addressing as it will hinder the improvement of primary care facilities across the whole country if it is not solved”.
Mr Gibb had previously described the delays as ‘unacceptable’.
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