Few have a greater respect for Dr Simon Dean than my wife and I who were fortunate enough to have been patients during his tenure at the Park Surgery. As a general practitioner, Dr Dean reflected the traditional values of a friendly, highly professional family doctor in an age where such relationships are becoming increasingly impersonal in our computerised age.
So in his new assignment as locality chairman of Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), he and his colleagues must find themselves on the horns of a dilemma.
On one hand, we have a compliant local authority - pressured by government - to build more and more houses on green field land surrounding Horsham - in order to meet the needs of those fleeing London and beyond for a more attractive life in Sussex.
On the other, a severe shortage of medical students - trained at public expense - not opting for a career in general practice due to the perceived long hours and ever increasing number of patients - many of them elderly.
Instead, they opt for either a more rewarding hospital appointment or emigrate to pastures new.
That said, the outline proposal that three GP practices in Horsham town centre should close and a new medical centre built on the outskirts of the town at Broadbridge Heath does at first sight appear to be a ludicrous suggestion - for the obvious reason of ease of access for those who rely upon public transport.
Surely our enlightened local authority should have considered the provision of essential services before giving the green light to developers who hover like birds of prey over the town?
Just how much liaison exists between our district council and the CCG when it comes to planning?
Granted, Dr Dean and his colleagues have emphasised that their proposals are merely intended to start a discussion. But - as we all know - such tentative proposals tend to be cast in stone within a short space of time.
That’s how modern democracy works - test the water, then go ahead as planned. The proposed North Horsham development is a prime example of how the system works.
Another solution to the possible demise of the smaller GP surgery would perhaps be for the government to insist that newly qualified doctors spend a period of at least five years in general practice.
After all, medicine is still supposed to be a vocation rather than a commercial enterprise.
Or is it?
ROBERT B. WORLEY
Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham