NHS bosses were lambasted yesterday for their “diabolical” scrapping of a new Keighley Health Centre.
They were accused of treating the town’s people as “second-class citizens” and wasting time, effort and money.
A meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee in Bradford heard councillors ask why plans for the £15 million centre had been dropped so dramatically.
They also asked where the £1 million Bradford Council had handed over for the project had gone.
Dr Phil Pue, chief clinical officer at Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG, said the priority was for “services, not bricks and mortar”.
He talked of integrated services under the umbrella of the current, 35-year-old centre in Oakworth Road. That centre would be refurbished with £300,000, said Dr Pue. The cash will be split into £160,000 for maintenance work and £140,000 to create new consultation rooms and remodel waiting and reception areas for the GP practice.
Dr Pue said that the £15 million earmarked for the new centre was not money in the bank, but cash that would have to be raised “moving forward”.
He claimed that money to fund it would have had to come out of the local health economy, therefore affecting service quality.
Keighley East Labour councillor Doreen Lee was not impressed. She said: “The way you have gone about this is diabolical. You never even let the district councillors know it wasn’t going ahead. We had to find out when locals asked us about it.”
She pointed to a vacant building in the centre of Keighley that would have been a better option than the current one, which she slammed as not fit for purpose, and added: “The whole thing has been an utter farce.”
Dr Pue, who claimed a new centre would have been paid for on a “mortgage-type basis”, said: “The decision was that money is better spent on services rather than bricks and mortar. It is the services that matter most to people.”
Coun Lee added: “It is disgusting what we are offering people in Keighley. I do not think you can offer adequate services just by tarting an old building up.”
Dr Pue said: “I don’t think people of Keighley get a second-class service. It is about providing better services for Keighley through the integrated care model.”
He added that the U-turn over the new centre was due to a shift in emphasis towards community-based support teams, offering services in people’s homes and preventing unplanned hospital visits.
Coun Vanda Greenwood (Lab, Windhill and Wrose) said: “You have spent a lot of money building up expectations. Perhaps that could have been avoided.”