LETTER: Implications for future health care

The original Ian Howard draft Local Plan that spread housing across the District was dramatically changed by Cllr Vickers to dump the majority of houses in North Horsham when she took over from him following Cllr Howard’s abrupt departure from his cabinet post.

Wednesday, 27th August 2014, 6:00 am
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Cllr Vickers didn’t want all those nasty houses in her ward knowing that the decision on it would be made just before her election in 2015 and so fell in behind Leader Cllr Dawe who didn’t want them spoiling his views either. And so in secret they came up with this new plan which councillors approved on April 30 this year.

Cllr Rae (Holbrook East) wrote on Facebook: ‘The West Sussex County Times asked whether the possible provision of a new hospital within the proposed North Horsham development was ‘a bribe’, of course it was’.

He said the failure of the hospital plan is ‘Very bad news for Horsham District as the hopes and aspirations of a decade have been dealt the cruel blow by our residents’ own doctors, not the politicians. However, as the GPs have apparently killed any hope of that ‘bribe’ materialising it is possibly a massive relief for the residents of North Horsham.’

Cllr Rae concluded by saying: ‘Without a full NHS funded A&E receiving hospital I cannot see how such a huge development (4,500 houses) can be justified - can you?’

The Clinical Commission Group (CCG) of GPs stopped the hospital plans dead in its tracks – a decision which was in keeping with the then national policy of fewer hospitals overall, bigger specialist units and an efficient paramedic service.

Now Government thinking seems to be turning back recognising the value of small general hospitals such as our wonderful Horsham Hospital. Having removed the ‘bribe’ to Horsham residents of a new local hospital, Cllr Rae pushed ahead with his alternative mind blowing idea of a ‘business park’ which many of us think will be mostly warehousing if it ever gets off the ground.

So what happened to health in all this political intrigue? Health provision was clearly sufficiently an issue with voters to be a prominent ‘bribe’ in Cllr Rae’s mind.

In the document recently approved by our wonderful councillors, health provision is hardly mentioned. Anyone who has tried to get an appointment with a GP recently will know that our local doctors are overstretched already without the increased demand from more than 11,500 extra houses?

Looking through the responses on the HDC website to the recent consultation, the Surrey and Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (made up of our local doctors) state that they do not support Chapter 7: Strategic Allocations ( Pro Sub 2936) because ‘it will not work i.e not effective’. They state:

‘The CCG would wish HDC to make provision for a strategic site for healthcare facilities within its strategic policy statement SD1. This could include primary care facilities as well as wider services appropriate not only for the North Horsham development itself but also to serve a wider geographical and population base.

‘The CCG also wishes the Council to acknowledge the implications of the housing development in Southwater on the existing general practice building and services and would want to see approval of the S106 application that will facilitate capacity enhancement in response to the housing growth’.

To be fair to our esteemed councillors, health is not in the district’s remit although it is now a county council matter.

But originally their plan was to include an acute hospital – so they must have given it just a little thought?

But now the Cllrs Dawe, Vickers, Croft and Rae plan – which a majority of our councillors accepted - prefers business to the health of their electors.

Did they not talk to/ communicate with the CCG?

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham