A PERMANENT home could be found within two years for a well-used health centre in one of the most deprived parts of Southend.

St Luke’s Health Centre opened in a temporary building in Pantile Avenue in 2009.

Since then, the number of patients on its books has more than trebled to 6,250, with a busy walk-in centre, open daily from 8am until 8pm offering treatment, not only to registered patients, but anyone who shows up and asks to be seen.

The centre is so busy, there have been many calls for it to be moved into a proper building on a more suitable site.

Now NHS England says it it aiming to do this within two years. St Luke’s ward Independent Southend councillor Paul van Looy said: “It is looking for a site and has said it wants it open within 24 months.

“It’s a well-used centre used by a lot of people from around the town, so this is brilliant news.”

Fellow ward councillor, Conservative Sally Carr, said: “We’ve been told since 2004 we would get a permanent centre in St Luke’s, so I would like to see the site identified soon.

“St Luke’s deserves a permanent health centre, or at least a doctor’s surgery so I’m hopeful it can happen.”

A spokesman for NHS England said: “Our area team is reviewing alternative options for St Luke’s Health Centre, along with NHS Property Services.

“There are a number of possible sites being reviewed and it is hoped we will be able to find alternative accommodation within the next 24 months.

“There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration, but we will keep local patients informed of the progress of this exercise.

“The existing St Luke’s Health Centre will remain open until any new premises are operational. NHS England is committed to providing the best primary care services available to patients in Essex.”