By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Nearly £3million could be spent on creating a large sexual health clinic in Thanet.
Kent County Council’s proposal to open the premises at Margate’s Flete Unit, in the grounds of Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital, was unveiled three days ago. This could be secured through a 15-year lease.
The £2.9million proposed move comes as sexual health services currently delivered in Thanet are either “at capacity” or “lack the facilities” to expand.
KCC’s public health cabinet member, Cllr Clair Bell (Con), published a report detailing the proposal, which will be determined by a KCC committee. In the report, she says: “There is the need to move services to a premise that can offer the full sexual health service to the population of Thanet.”
Thousands of patients across the country visit sexual health clinics to receive advice about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and contraception.
Thanet provides these services in three main sites, including Margate’s Minnis Bay, also at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital. Another is based in College Road, Margate, and the third in Newington Road, Ramsgate.
But, the existing facilities could be integrated into a single site at Margate’s QEQM, in Ramsgate Road, if approved by Kent county councillors next month.
Flete Unit has been chosen ahead of several other locations, including three retail units; Margate Adult Education Centre and the Norfolk Road hotel. KCC chiefs discounted the other options due to their “unsuitability”.
Margate county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab), who supports the move, said: “It’s a vital health service that is needed in any area, including Thanet.”
KCC’s commissioned project has been forecast to cost around £2.9m over the next 15 years. The scheme will be run by property management firm Gen2.
If approved, just under £1m will be spent on its construction over the next 12 months, along with running costs during the first year. Around £2m will be spent on running the clinic over the remaining 14 years, until 2036.
KCC’s public health cabinet member’s executive paper also says: “We need to invest in our infrastructure to deliver sustainable community assets…and to improve Kent’s public health outcomes.”
A final decision is expected to be made by KCC’s health reform and public health committee on April 30, but could be delayed amid coronavirus fears.
KCC and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment further.