Health chief visits clinic to see expansion work first hand

  • 6th March 2024

Lord Markham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, visited Thetford Healthy Living Centre recently to see how the building will continue to support healthcare in the local community both now and into the future.

The centre, run by Norlife LIFTCo, currently hosts a range of primary care, diagnostic, mental health, and outpatient services and lies within the Priory ward, which includes areas in the 10% most deprived in England.

Thetford is also the focus for significant new housing, with 5,000 dwellings planned to be built, which will generate demand for up to 11,000 new patient registrations over the next 20 years.

Following the current variation project, funded by NHS England, at the building, which is facilitated by Community Health Partnerships (CHP), 16 new clinical rooms will be available providing for 7,000 new GP registrations.

The construction work will also lead to an expansion of the range of services being commissioned for local patients by the Integrated Care Board (ICB).

The changes are replacing former office and administrative areas on the first floor with much-needed, fully-compliant clinical consultation rooms.

There will also be three new GP rooms on the ground floor as well as improved place-based access to disease prevention and wellbeing support and advice will reduce the need for planned outpatient care and unplanned visits to acute hospital sites.

And the development will improve accessibility for patients, with a second lift being added.

Lord Markham at Thetford Healthy Living Centre

Outdoors, the building’s sustainability credentials have been improved with the provision of electric vehicle charging.

An added benefit of the updates will be enhanced recruitment and retention of staff as the new spaces offer state-of-the-art modern facilities.

Lord Markham visited the building alongside colleagues from the local Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB); Breckland Alliance Group; Simon Waters, regional director of the South and East at CHP; and Colin Mitchell, portfolio manager for the area at CHP.

The facility was opened in 2007 and its location, design, and operational policies were heavily influenced by a local community panel.

The building has since been used as an exemplar for community engagement by the NHS and has proved flexible in adapting to changing NHS demands, supported by strong local engagement from the Breckland Primary Care Network (PCN).

“We’re committed to ensuring that patients across the country have access to top-quality healthcare, and as part of our long term plan for our health service this £2.8m investment of NHS capital will foster integration of services and provide a modern and accessible healthcare facility that is fit for the future,” said Lord Markham.

“It’s fantastic to see the innovation happening in Thetford and how this clinical space has been designed to provide flexibility for health and care service provision for local patients, creating additional capacity to meet patient demand in the area.”

Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB, added: “The refurbishment of the Thetford Healthy Living Centre is a strategic investment into the infrastructure that Norfolk and Waveney needs to be able to deliver better integrated health and social care within our communities.

“The centre is already ideally located to support residents to access health and care services closer to home and, with the newly-created clinical spaces and accessibility improvements such as the addition of a second lift and expanded car park, it will provide capacity for services to grow to meet the demands for health and care services now and in future.”


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