PLANS for an integrated medical centre at Grays are in doubt after it was revealed there is a £24million funding gap for the scheme.
Four centres are planned to deliver a range of primary care services across Thurrock following the planned closure of Orsett Hospital. To date, only one has opened in Corringham.
The majority of services currently delivered at Orsett will be transferred to the Grays integrated medical centre.
However, councillors on Thurrock’s health and wellbeing committee were told on Thursday the sale of Orsett will only bring £6million towards the £30million cost of the Grays centre.
Earlier this year, troubleshooter Tiffany Hemming was brought in to co-ordinate the provision of the centres.
Ms Hemming told the committee finance bosses were currently considering the funding gap, but she said: “In terms of the full integrated medical centre build we have a very large funding gap because Orsett Hospital has come back with a lower valuation than we expected therefore there is a rather large cost and a rather large gap.”
Chairman Shane Ralph asked her bluntly: “You can’t afford this can you?”
In response, Ms Hemming said: “At the moment it’s not looking great in terms of having enough money for all of these sites, particularly the funding gap for Grays but we are working through that because we have to find a solution to close Orsett Hospital. The money is the biggest risk at the present time.”
Mr Ralph said councillors had been led to believe the plans were going “full steam ahead”.
He added: “I’m seriously concerned about this whole project. The Corringham facility is fantastic. Are we ever going to get the rest of these? I can’t see where we are heading.”
Ms Hemming suggested the buildings weren’t the whole picture. She said: “I’m moving the focus away from just delivering buildings, which is where it has been, and more to making sure we have integrated care services across Thurrock because I firmly believe that we should have been doing that from 2015 onwards. That will ensure we will enhance the service delivered to every patient in Thurrock regardless of there being a building in place.”