A new health centre of "national significance" is now back on the table for a Suffolk market town after plans for a 'one stop shop' facility 20 years ago were ditched due to financial problems.

Dr John Havard, a GP at Saxmundham Health, spoke at the town's annual parish meeting at Market Hall in the High Street and revealed there had been "local, regional and national" approval in principle for a new larger building to replace the current facility in Lambsale Meadow.

He told Thursday's meeting staff were now engaged on preparing an outline business case for the development.

READ MORE: 'Strong public support' for new Saxmundham health centre

If the development goes ahead, then the plan will be to bring all community staff under one roof to ensure continuity of patient care as the current NHS model was 'fatally fragmented, expensive and unfulfilling, which is bad for both staff and patients'.

Dr Havard said all clinical care should take place in the community, except those cases needing the "low volume, high tech, resource-intensive hospital", adding that community practice staff were better at handling "undifferentiated cases" and deciding who needed to go to hospital.

East Anglian Daily Times: Dr John Havard, of Saxmundham Health, said there was local, regional and national approval for a new health centreDr John Havard, of Saxmundham Health, said there was local, regional and national approval for a new health centre (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown)More procedures and investigations should also be done in the community, with facilities for endoscopy, eye procedures, echocardiograms and ultrasound, along with MRI and CT scanners.

READ MORE: Meeting scheduled to discuss Saxmundham 'one stop shop' health centre

Dr Havard described the project as of "national significance" and said: "Saxmundham Health has a long history of initiating successful bottom-up initiatives, often highly integrated with the local community.

"Top-down change in the NHS has failed to achieve its objectives and it really is time for something more radical.

"Now is the moment for investment in primary care (healthcare provided in the community) and we will find, when it is bedded in, that it actually offers much better value."

READ MORE: Saxmundham news

He said there had been a fall in the numbers of primary care staff, but if this trend was reversed then it would be 'possible to consistently offer same day access' to care for patients. 

The current health centre needs replacing as it is considered too small, too outdated and prone to flooding as it is sited on a flood plain.