18th January 2024

The Patient Participation Group (PPG), a local group which liaises with the Burnham Surgery, have sent a statement about the Surgery. The statement has been approved by local NHS and the Surgery.

Please click on the link below to read it.

PPG. Final Briefing for Council on Burnham Surgery 18 Jan 2024

For more information about the Surgery Debate on this website, type Surgery into the search box above.

The Save Our Surgery (SOS) group has responded in detail to the PPG statement.

Please click on the link below to read their response.

Save our Surgery Response to PPG Briefing 19 Jan 2024


In the interests of presenting all sides of this debate, residents are offered the opportunity to respond to the PPG statement above.

Responses will be reproduced below. If the number of responses becomes overwhelming, we will publish as many as we can, and do our best to summarise the rest. Please keep your comments clear of bad language, so that they can be published.

If you do not want your name to be published, please make this clear at the top of your response.

If you do not want your response to be published, please also make that clear at the top of your response.

Please send your emails to the Town Council Communications Coordinator, Cllr Nick Skeens, whose email address is: CllrNickSkeens@burnhamoncrouchtowncouncil.gov.uk

Letters can be sent to Nick at:

Burnham-on-Crouch Town Council,
Chapel Road,
Burnham on Crouch,
Essex, CM0 8JA


Frances Franklin. Response to PPG Briefing. 20 Jan 2024

Please note that the Word documents that Frances Franklin refers to cannot be opened in this PDF file, but their presence as ‘icons’ evidences their existence.

From a local resident. Received 20 January

Having closely examined all of the published statements, I remain concerned that no public body is critically standing back and performing an objective “demand analysis” – asking what healthcare services are actually needed to support what healthcare outcomes in the area over the next 15-20 years and what would be the most cost-effective means of delivering these.

The ICB/Surgery’s supply-led approach will never truly answer these questions and best value/outcomes for patients and taxpayers may never be realised.  It must be the the role of the ICB and the PPG to ensure this.

It is clear that a “one size fits all” solution is contentious, impractical and undesirable, and a hybrid approach (across refurbished sites i.e. Foundry Lane Surgery, the Burnham Clinic and maybe one more location) is more likely to achieve the best health outcomes for patients now and in the next 30 years.

Finally, I am surprised that no-one has yet mentioned that there already exists a built facility in very close proximity to the existing Surgery which could, with modest investment, quickly deliver on many of the existing site’s limitations – not least in terms of staff office, amenity and training space: Mildmay House on Foundry Lane – which currently has units available for lease.

From a local resident, who is also a member of the national and local Green Party. Received 22 January

I have read the PPG’s recent briefing along with all other articles and documents on the subject of the move of the town centre Surgery to the out-of-town site at Burnham Waters.

Why have the PPG and the GP Practice not considered the fact that in 2020 the NHS became the world’s first health service to commit to reaching carbon net zero? Based on the current number of GP appointments each day, moving our Surgery to Burnham Waters (not accessible by public transport and out of walking range for the average person) could easily mean a 200% or more increase in vehicle movements on to the site. The GP Practice says the new Surgery building and pharmacy there will be used 24 hours a day 7 days a week by other services (police, social services, etc) as well as the NHS so this will add even more to that traffic. And these are low estimates. Will all these additional carbon emissions be recorded and put against the NHS’s net zero target?

Personal vehicles are a major cause of climate change, and we must reduce their use if we are to stop global warming. I can’t understand why GPs and health decision-makers, supported by the PPG, want to make a visit to the Surgery dependent on using a car or paying for a taxi when town centre site options – near to plenty of buses and trains and within walking distance for most people – exist.

From Allison Barton, PPG member, who says she took the minutes for the relevant meeting, received 24 January

I would like to make it clear that many, probably most of the statements in the ‘PPG’ briefing recently published, were made by an employee of the surgery. The PPG were being briefed. The PPG are not a homogenous group with a single mind as would appear from this document. The statement was agreed by the surgery but was not put to PPG members before publication. It does not represent the full minutes of the meeting in question.

From a local Resident, referring to Allison Barton’s comment above. Received 25 January

Wow good for Ally Barton!

I love our surgery but their attempts to manipulate the health planning process by paying off Healthwatch to publish their survey, and pass off their position as PPG statement, is shameful. If they can’t do this transparently there is obviously good reason for them not to do it at all.

From Jan van der Schans, received 26 January

I refer to the ‘Burnham Surgery Summary Statement’ recently published on the home page of the www.burnhamsurgery.co.uk web site, which invites comments and questions from the public, regarding the proposed relocation of its surgery premises.  This resulted in an exchange of emails with the Burnham Surgery from which additional information has been obtained.

I understand the concerns of Burnham’s town folk about relocating the Burnham Surgery from the centre of town to the outskirts, especially for those without private transport and the financial means to pay for public and private transport, which seems to be the main focus of their objections to the move.  Think Green Land Ltd, could have solved that objection very easily if they allowed patients to use the Burnham Waters’ electric bus service, between the town centre and the Burnham Waters Medical Centre, free of charge.  I will let others elaborate on this particular issue.

My other primary objection to the move, which may become more relevant as the project progresses, has always been that the Burnham Waters Medical Centre, as approved by MDC, is of insufficient size to accommodate the Burnham Surgery, even with its current number of patients, let alone to meet the needs of 14,000 patients.  It is so obvious that a medical centre designed to meet the needs of 1,400 private patients could never, in terms of space and spaces, meet the needs of a practice with 14,000 NHS patients.  I don’t understand why this was not addressed before planning application OUT/MAL/18/00443 was submitted to Maldon District Council, that included a two-storey medical centre [comprising of] (GP, dental, optician, and dispensing chemist), with its size and position defined on the site plan and on the plans prepared by Stanley Bragg, Architects. The projected patient numbers, according to the Burnham Surgery, were supplied by MDC and Think Green Land Ltd.

Further, what I find strange is that Sir John Whittingdale said, from the transcript, at the public meeting held on 18 August 2023:

As part of that development, actually the District Council said there should be a health facility, but no decision has been taken about who should be providing care within it – whether it should be the NHS or maybe a private health provider.

I have confirmation from our District Councillors that MDC did not request a private or NHS health facility to be provided on the Burnham Waters site.  Can we believe anything that anyone says.  Personally, I am more inclined to believe it when it is in writing.  Then there is an audit trail.

More detailed plans were submitted to MDC under application 22/01139/VARM, that included plans:

6765-M-1201-P1 – Medical Centre – Proposed Floor Plans, 6765-M-1301-P1 – Medical Centre – Proposed Elevations

I do not have access to the original scale drawings, only unscaled A4 sized reproductions.  But by using the standard MDC parking space of 4.8m x 2.4m I have estimated that the proposed medical centre has a total floor area of 500 m2, over two floors.

However, within this space it is also required to accommodate, as per the planning application, a dentist, an optician, and a dispensing chemist, all of which require specific equipment and spaces.  In addition, in the Burnham Waters promotional literature, it states that the medical centre will also house a dialysis machine, which will require a dedicated room, all leaving less space for GP services, which I estimate to be 430 m2 remaining.  That is less than the surgery currently has.

Now, I am not an expert in the design of medical centres, but as a retired naval architect I know a thing or two about the design and utilization of space, and the influence of the position of doors, window and corridors, and the proportions of the various spaces, on design, but even with the very best design, current MDC approved Burnham Waters Medical Centre will have insufficient space to meet the current, and future needs of the Burnham Surgery.

The plans for the Burnham Waters Medical Centre show that it was intended to have 15 car parking places, presumably because patients would walk from their homes on the Burnham Waters estate to the medical centre.  A planning statement issued by The Planning and Design Bureau Ltd and dated September 2023 mentions that ‘additional parking for patients visiting the medical centre is now desirable’.  It does not state how many parking places or where they are located on the site.

I have looked at the design of the Crouch Vale Medical Centre and the Danbury Medical Centre.  Plans for these buildings are available on the City of Chelmsford Planning information system. I do not know how many patients are registered at these NHS medical centres but from current published population numbers, South Woodham Ferrers has twice the population of Burnham on Crouch and Danbury has just below that of Burnham.

The Crouch Vale Medical Centre has a combined floor area of 1,490 m2 and no dentist, optician or dispensary rooms.  It also has 47 car parking spaces for staff and patients.

The Danbury Medical Centre has a combined floor area of 1,330 m2, and with no optician or dentist, and 45 car parking places for staff and patients.

I have taken a look at the plans for the proposed Southminster Medical Centre, that were extremely difficult to find on the MDC Planning website but are contained in planning application 22/01005/FUL.  The Medical Centre is intended to meet the growing needs of 9,000 patients and is to be located on the western outskirts of Southminster on David Fisher Way, 0.7 miles away from the existing William Fisher Medical Centre in the High Street.  I don’t know how its construction is being financed, but I would like to know.  I have calculated that this Medical Centre has a floor area, over two floors, of 600 m2 and the plans show parking spaces for 33 vehicles.

Dan Doherty, Alliance Director NHS Integrated Care Board, stated at the public meeting on 18 August:

We’ve all seen it and all of those patients want to register with GPs and all of the GPs are saying to us ‘we haven’t got the space’ and the public generally say ‘we have problems getting GP appointments, we can’t see people’ and the GPs say ‘we can’t employ any more people because we haven’t got enough space’. So virtually every single surgery at the moment wants more space.

Space and spaces do matter when designing a medical centre, and according to the Burnham Surgery, the current site in Foundry Lane is 494 m2 and based on NHS England’s Health Building Note, Facilities for primary and community care services 11-01, NHS requirements gives a minimum required floor area of 1,158 m2 for the new Burnham Surgery located in the Burnham Waters Medical Centre.  This 1,158 m2 does not seem overly generous compared with Danbury Medical Centre at 1,330 m2 and serving a similar sized population, with additional areas required for the dental practice, optician and pharmacy.

But it is not just floor area that counts but the proportions of the main building.  The Crouch Vale, Danbury and proposed Southminster Medical Centres all have a rectangular footprint with one central corridor and rooms off to each side, leading to the most efficient use of the overall space.  The current plan for the Burnham Waters Medical Centre shows an almost square footprint with two corridors.  The architects of this building, Stanley Bragg, appear to lack relevant experience in the design of medical centres.

If it is any consolation to patients of the Burnham Surgery, if the practice were to submit an application to the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board, which it has not done so as yet, to move from the Foundry Lane site to the current proposed Burnham Waters Medical Centre, it would be turned down instantly because it lacks sufficient space.

The problem, or maybe the benefit, as I see it, is that to meet the future needs of the Burnham Surgery, and all its patients, would require a major redesign, not just of the medical centre and the vehicle parking provisions, but also a large part of the Burnham Waters site, which Think Green Land Ltd would appear unwilling to do unless they are in receipt of a Letter of Intent from the Burnham Surgery, to move onto their site.  And that will not be forthcoming until the ICB has approved the Burnham Surgery’s proposal.  So an impasse has been reached, which has existed now for a long time.

My own view is that if the Burnham Surgery were to move to the Burnham Waters site, it should be expanded still further to incorporate a minor injuries unit, and a diagnostic unit, etc. so that it becomes less necessary to travel from Burnham to Broomfield Hospital, St Peter’s Hospital or any NHS other unit to receive such services.  The ICB should take the opportunity to consider this.

Finally, I’m not sure what the Town Council’s formal role is in this matter.  Maybe it should be the District Councillors in the four Burnham on Crouch wards who should be communicating with the town’s folk regarding this development.  None the less, I thank BTC for keeping the debate alive.

This response is from Dr John Cormack, a GP in South Woodham Ferrers, received 31st Jan 2024

Response from Dr John Cormack of South Woodham Ferrers.31 Jan 2024

This response is from Alan Shrimplin. He says it is in response to the Healthwatch survey and relevant to the PPG Statement. Received 13 Feb 2024

Alan Shrimplin. Response letter to healthwatch, 08 Jan 2024