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Rethink urged over Norwich health centre plans

PUBLISHED: 09:11 02 May 2014 | UPDATED: 09:11 02 May 2014

Labour's Norwich South parliamentary candidate Clive Lewis, staff and patients show their support for the petition to save the Timber Hill Health Centre in Castle Mall.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Labour's Norwich South parliamentary candidate Clive Lewis, staff and patients show their support for the petition to save the Timber Hill Health Centre in Castle Mall. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

A parliamentary candidate has called on the owners of a Norwich shopping centre to reconsider its proposals to relocate Norfolk's only NHS walk-in health centre.

The future of Timber Hill Health Centre was thrown into doubt last month when Castle Mall officials unveiled a scheme for a new restaurant quarter on level four and plans to move the health centre to a larger empty shop on level two. However, the operators of the GP surgery and walk-in centre have rejected the move because of the relocation costs.

The landlords have offered to pay £400,000 of the centre’s refit. However, Norwich Practices Ltd officials said they could not afford to pay for the rest of the relocation costs, which they said would be around £1m.

However, Clive Lewis, Labour’s Norwich South parliamentary candidate, gathered with campaigners yesterday to launch a petition calling for the Mall owners, InfraRed, to reconsider their proposals. He added that NHS England needed to be pressured to commit to a walk-in centre in Norwich for the long-term.

“Why should the cash-strapped NHS be forced to write a blank cheque, with our tax money, just because the Castle Mall’s corporate investment owners want to move them? We now call on them [InfraRed] to show some real corporate social responsibility and really help the people of Norwich to keep their Timber Hill Health Centre.”

“They provide jobs and great shopping facilities in our city that we all love to visit. But what they’ve offered so far is simply not good enough,” he said.

However, Paul McCarthy, centre manager of the Castle Mall, said the shopping centre could have the new restaurant quarter and a bigger health centre.

“We appreciate the service they provide and recognise that it is a really good service and the ideal solution is to retain it in the city centre and in the Castle Mall. The development will be a new destination for the people of Norwich providing 120 new jobs and we can relocate the walk-in centre at a bigger and more accessible position on level two and we are keen to work with them to make that happen. It is not a question of either or, we can have both,” he said.

Members of King Street Neighbours were also outside the Mall yesterday collecting signatures for a petition calling for a walk-in centre to be retained in Norwich. Bill Monaghan, secretary of the community group, said: “I’m registered here and before it opened I had to travel three to four miles to see a GP. We need to have a central facility - the surgery is always busy.”

You can also sign the petition online at www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/health/timber-hill-health-centre-petition

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