Littlehampton special dental care services ‘should not be permanently relocated out of town’

Littlehampton Health Centre
Littlehampton Health Centre

If special dental care services at Littlehampton Health Centre have to relocate to Chichester or Worthing, the move should be temporary, councillors have said.

The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCT) wants to move the service to clinics in either Chichester or Worthing, because its current home, in Fitzalan Road, is ‘not fit for purpose’.

The clinic caters for patients who either have special needs or have difficulty accessing general services.

At the West Sussex health and adult social care select committee, in Chichester on Thursday, members recommended that the service should eventually be moved to a health and community hub due to be built in the town by 2022.

There was criticism of the lack of maintenance carried out at the health centre building over the years.

James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton East) worked there as a GP in 1973, less than two years after it opened.

He said: “The problem with the building is that it’s never properly been maintained. We quit it 25 or 30 years ago because it was getting worse then, and we couldn’t see it getting better.

“Ever since then, I have been pressing for proper maintenance of that building.

“The health service in its various guises has never properly upgraded that building – the story of NHS estates almost everywhere.”

Lloyd Barker, of the SCT, told the meeting that some patients with mobility issues were already being seen in Chichester and Worthing because their safety could not be assured if a fire broke out at the Littlehampton clinic.

Dr Walsh questioned figures from the SCT which said the 92 patients would face an average journey of 5.2 miles once the clinic was moved, rather than the current 3.2 miles.

Mr Barker said only six patients had given feedback about the proposed move and only two had raised concerns about how they would get to the clinic.

There were also concerns about the lack of health services in Littlehampton.

George Blampied, of Arun District Council, said: “The hospital was taken away some years ago, the doctors’ surgery never came up, now you’re taking away the dental.

“What happens next? Will they take away the ambulance service so people would have to use their own cars in Littlehampton to take people to hospital?”

Kate O’Kelly (Lib Dem, Midhurst) felt that moving the service out of the town was counter to the principle of building ‘local, resilient community hubs in order to deliver everyday services close to home’.

She told Mr Barker that the idea of moving it back once the hub was built ‘needs to be a priority’.

A consultation into the proposed changes will run until January 16 2019, with the move expected to take place early that year.