Patients could be put at increased risk if plans to move a doctors’ surgery out of the centre of Lynn are approved, it has been claimed.
Health service chiefs have insisted no decision has yet been taken on where the St James Medical Practice may be located under redevelopment proposals.
But they maintain they are committed to providing improved services to patients across the town as a whole.
Community representatives have suggested that one option put forward is to move the practice from its current site in County Court Road to a new, purpose-built facility in the Kilhams Way area of North Lynn.
They fear such a move would make it far harder for patients from South Lynn and other surrounding areas who are registered at the surgery to access the services they need.
County councillor Alexandra Kemp fears that a move to North Lynn would increase pollution caused by car journeys to the site and risks to patients caused by exposure to traffic fumes if they have to walk there.
She warned that the town centre could become a “not spot” for health services and raised concerns about the potential impact on other practices.
She said: “St James Medical Practice should clearly stay put.”
Practice officials had not responded to a request for comment as the Lynn News went to press yesterday.
However, Ruth Derrett, NHS England’s locality manager for the eastern region, said: “This project offers the potential for an exciting new healthcare development in King’s Lynn.
“It will provide improved premises and access to healthcare services which will serve patients in Kings Lynn well into the future.
“This project is at a very early stage and no decisions have been made about the location of the building.
“All new developments are subject to a business case being submitted and approved by partner NHS organisations, to ensure the best outcome for our patients. We will also ensure patients are engaged in discussions regarding these plans, to ensure we can continue to support the development of modern services to meet our patient needs.”
Health officials have been working in partnership with West Norfolk Council on the project, which members supported in a closed session during a meeting in January.
But the Kilhams Way area was the subject of a major health scare in 1999, when high levels of phthalate chemicals were discovered there.
Although the land was later deemed to be safe following tests carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, the affair triggered widespread national media coverage, because of concerns over the safety of pupils attending the nearby St Edmund’s School.
Charles Joyce, one of the authority’s two representatives for South Lynn, stressed that he was not accusing the ruling Conservative administration of putting people at undue risk as a first choice.
But he insisted that better alternative sites can be found.
He said: “There is land in South Lynn that would be suitable for a doctors’ surgery serving the people of South Lynn and the villages surrounding it.”
A council spokesman said other sites had been offered but had either been declined, or deemed to be unsuitable on specific grounds, such as potential flood risk.
She added: “As it is a brownfield site, they would need to undertake due diligence when putting together their plans for development of the surgery to ensure that the site is appropriate for the use.”