The Ongar War Memorial Medical Centre has stood empty for nearly two years because doctors at a nearby surgery cannot agree on the lease terms with NHS England, due to the absence of a crucial IT system.
NHS England spends £10,000 every month on the building, which cost £5.7 million to build. With the exception of some minor services, it has stood unoccupied for nearly two years. Some services like community blood-taking are likely to open in November, however the Bansons Lane practice – the building’s largest occupants – are unlikely to move in until February 2014.
Dr Hugh Taylor, GP principal of the Ongar Health Centre, said:
It transpired that they didn't have the N3 network installed. We wouldn't be able to move in without that network – we have now found a solution for exiting our current lease and hope to be moving by February next year.
Many members of the community are angry that the older Ongar War Memorial Hospital was demolished to make way for the newer building, which has stood empty for over 15 months. Local resident Henry Hart has been outspoken against the delays:
The War Memorial Hospital should never have been demolished. They should never have built the place before agreeing a tenant. They should have agreed a tenant long before they knocked down the old hospital.
Local residents have been deprived of essential healthcare services and must look further afield until the new medical centre opens. The surgery is paying for both locations, and taxpayers are footing the bills.
The delays waste money and put lives at risk. For the sake of patients and all of us who fund the NHS, the GP surgery and NHS England need to get their act together and end this shoddy situation.