A report released this week has confirmed there is little local support for relocating Horsham GP provision to a site in Broadbridge Heath.
The Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) 5 Communities Plan, drawn up with Crawley CCG caused a storm of protest last year because it included proposals to combine three town centre surgeries and relocating two of them to a larger medical practice in Broadbridge Heath where new housing will demand new provision.
The CCG says something needs to change since three town centre practices - Courtyard Surgery, Orchard Surgery and Riverside Surgery - have all outgrown their buildings but they have no way of expanding on their current sites.
Relocation was just one idea put to patients, health workers and carers during a consultation looking into how the local NHS has to change over the next 30 years.
In partnership with Crawley CCG, health managers toured Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex gathering their views. They spoke to 299 residents, including 129 from the Horsham area.
The results showed those in Horsham ‘responded negatively’ to the merger and instead favoured additional services at the town’s community hospital.
The report reads: “Some respondents felt the remaining (Horsham) branch surgery would be inundated by those wishing to avoid travelling, and many commented negatively about the increased need to travel to Broadbridge Heath, and the difficulties of public transport - particularly for older people who might no longer drive or for those with mobility problems.
“Conversely, the smaller number of respondents from Broadbridge Heath welcomed the idea of a surgery co-located with the new leisure centre.
“People were more positive about the potential for Horsham Hospital to have a GP practice included in it or one respondent suggested utilising the closed fire station premises.”
Horsham District Council threw the CCG’s proposal to open a new medical centre at Broadbridge Heath into doubt last month.
One option being considered by the Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG was to merge three town centre surgeries into a larger medical facility in a new leisure centre in the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant.
However last month, following persistent campaigns by residents, the council announced it now planned to review the use of the current centre instead of demolishing it to replace it with a new one.
A CCG spokeswoman said: “The council is part of the 5 Communities plan and whatever they are planning and how that plan changes, we are in discussion with them.”
She added that also applied to other proposed housing developments in and around Horsham.
Any decision to relocate GP surgeries would be made by the GP practices. It has to involve consultation with patients and the CCG. It would have to be approved by the health watchdog NHS England.
The 5 Communities Plan updated with residents’ views has now been approved by the CCGs’ governing bodies and it will go into phase two.
Dr Minesh Patel NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG chairman and GP, said: “Our CCGs are determined that health and social care services in our area are designed around the needs of the individual and local community in which they live.
“As local GPs, we know our patients; we see them face to face, day in and day out. And working alongside expert health managers, we know which services are clinically needed, but we don’t always see firsthand what it is like to use NHS services so this is where your input has been – and will continue to be - vital.”
Phase two which will feature more detail on the types of services, locations and budget will be published in the next few months for further consideration from the public.
In the meantime, in response to the feedback in phase one, the CCG is recruiting community and voluntary representatives to join five working groups focusing on the plans for each of the five communities.
To read the full report click on the Resources tab at www.5communitieswest sussex.nhs.uk. Information about being part of a working group is also on the website.