Bradford Councillors angry as decision to axe Keighley health centre plan comes 'without warning'

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

The decision to scrap a planned £15 million health centre in Keighley should be explained to Bradford Council by the NHS, as one local councillor claims it left them “high and dry.”

On Friday, the local Primary Care Trust revealed a health and wellbeing centre, which had been in the planning stages for more than three years, would not be going ahead, and there would instead be a focus on community and home-based care.

Local councillors have reacted angrily to the news, with some claiming there was little or no notice the decision was taking place. Coun Adrian Naylor, (Independent, Craven), has asked for the issue to be raised at the next meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing scrutiny committee, on which he sits, on February 21.

In addition to medical services, the centre would have offered dentists, end-of-life care, Council-run wellbeing services and room for voluntary groups. Bradford Council pledged £1 million to the project at an early stage, although that money still remains in Council accounts.

With the Council and NHS due to start working more closely from April, when health care across the country sees a massive shake up, Coun Naylor says the lack of communication is a worrying sign.

He said: “I am surprised that despite going out to consultation the decision appears to have been made by the NHS without engaging with the Council.

“We had the million pounds in the fund for several years. That money could have been spent where it was needed. Now a decision has come out of the blue and it seems the NHS just haven’t bothered to let us know.

“We will soon be working in partnership with the NHS, so I’m surprised this wasn’t one of the first examples of collaborative work.

“As a scrutiny committee we need to see where this communication broke down. It seems to have been a unilateral decision by the NHS that has left their partner high and dry.”

Coun Doreen Lee represents Keighley East, and also sits on the committee. She said: “It is a great shock this isn’t going ahead. I understand the money situation, but it is a great loss to Keighley. A lot of money was spent on planning it, and in hindsight that money should have been put to better use. I’m not happy.”

Council leader David Green has already said he would meet with NHS bosses to demand answers over the decision.

Keighley MP Kris Hopkins wants the £1 million set aside by Bradford Council to remain in the constituency, adding: “I hope Coun Green will now confirm that this money will still go towards healthcare provision in Keighley, ideally with a concentration on improving services for older residents."

A spokesman for NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds said: “Over the past few months we have briefed a range of stakeholders on plans to improve patient care through greater integration of health, social care and voluntary sector services in the Keighley area, and this briefing has also included our decision that a new health and wellbeing centre was no longer needed in light of the integrated care programme.”

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