LETTER: Enhanced services in the community

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As a long-standing patient of Riverside Surgery and lay member for Horsham at Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group I have read with interest the various recent features and letters about future healthcare provision in the town.

Before offering my own observations I should stress that being a lay member enables me to be an independent voice and I do not have to toe any party line. However, my attendance at regular CCG meetings does enable me to make informed but nonetheless personal comment.

I’d like first to make the point that there seems to be a misapprehension that the CCG is in some way colluding with NHS England to reduce the number of practices in Horsham – this is not so.

While the CCG works with NHSE to identify what the options are for overall service development, the opening and closure of practices is determined by NHSE alone in discussion with practices themselves.

Nonetheless the CCG does act as a catalyst in facilitating discussion between practices and NHSE where development bids are concerned.

Neither the CCG nor Horsham practices themselves are committed to reducing their number as a matter of policy nor is there a definitive plan to do so.

The CCG has never said that it plans to close Riverside, Courtyard and Orchard surgeries and roll them all up in to a super-surgery at Broadbridge Heath. Indeed for the reasons outlined above it would not in any case have the power to do so.

What the CCG is concentrating on, working with a variety of partners, is the development of enhanced services in the local Horsham community either at GP surgeries or Horsham Hospital. Achieving this at a time of financial constraint, however, means that some consolidation may be needed which is why various options are being explored.

At least one of the existing Horsham town centre practices has severe constraints on building development which limit its scope for providing additional services; allied to that a new surgery will certainly be needed at Broadbridge Heath to service rising demand, not least from residents of the new housing estates.

As and when this is created it would make sense for it to offer the sort of enhanced services I’ve referred to above. But the concept of it absorbing the existing practices at Riverside, Orchard and Courtyard is just one of the options about which the public are being consulted and it is certainly not a done deal.

I should also note at this juncture that some comments have tended to conflate the CCG’s consultation with the perceived lack of meaningful consultation by Horsham DC in relation to the North Horsham housing development.

These issues are unrelated and from what I’ve seen and heard the CCG will be taking note of patient views before any final plan is drafted, let alone agreed.

Should it nonetheless come about that Riverside, Courtyard and Orchard practices are incorporated in to a new Broadbridge Heath surgery, I for one would be wanting the relevant parties to ensure that alongside Park Surgery another town centre facility for patients of these three practices were maintained.

This would be particularly important for older patients who do not drive. I believe also that it’s vital the needs of patients with long-term conditions are considered. They in particular want continuity of care and this applies to the GP they see.

So future developments must take account of this, even if it were to mean that some GPs spent time at both Broadbridge Heath and in a town centre practice.

But all that’s for the future. In the meantime it’s important that the debate around these issues is a balanced one.

The benefits of the various options must be articulated and considered alongside any perceived disadvantages and the provision of enhanced services in the local community would from my perspective rank high on the benefits list.

Such a development would, for example, obviate the need for so many trips to East Surrey Hospital at Redhill. I for one would say Amen to that.

DAVID PHILLIPS MBE

Rusper Road, Horsham