Morrisons has weighed into the GP surgery fiasco in Littlehampton, saying the plans failed because the NHS did not communicate with them.
Local NHS leaders, councillors and GPs were working together to get a GP surgery built on The Enterprise Hub site next to Morrisons in Wick.
But yesterday, it was revealed that Morrisons had found a new buyer for the site, scuppering three years of planning and setbacks, including the closure of another Littlehampton surgery.
Dr Yvonne Grant is GP partner at the Fitzalan Medical Group, which was set to co-run the surgery. She said she was ‘disappointed’ Morrisons had found a new buyer as plans for the surgery were set to be approved on schedule by April.
But the supermarket giant has cast doubt on these claims, saying it found a new buyer because it could not get hold of the NHS.
A Morrisons spokesman said: “We are surprised by the comments made by the Fitzalan Medical Group as we have made numerous attempts to contact the NHS with little response.
“Our understanding, from their agent, was that they were not in a position to continue with their plans and rather than leave the site to deteriorate we have found a potential buyer who can bring the buildings back into use.”
This fuels growing criticism of the NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has been in charge of the project.
Marie Dodd, Chief Operating Officer at the CCG, said: “We are sorry that Morrison’s do not feel they have been updated on our work to date. We have worked closely with partners to keep them updated and have been keen to involve everyone with an interest in this project.”
Arun District Councillor Mike Northeast, whose ward includes the Morrisons site, believed the CCG should now be taken over by Government inspectors.
He said: “They must feel highly embarrassed about what has happened. They have got egg on their face for not having a Plan B. “This is a serious miscalculation on the CCG’s behalf, and I think the Government should move inspectors in to take it over.
“I have no confidence in them now and I should think the majority of Littlehampton does not either.”
Councillors will have a meeting with the CCG next week when the issue will be discussed.