As a patient at one of the surgeries in question, I am very concerned about the proposal to move three of the town centre surgeries to Broadbridge Heath, as discussed at the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) meeting on Thursday July 31.
Whilst I fully agree that the population explosion in the Horsham area warrants new medical facilities, I believe they should be manned by attracting new GPs into the area, not by relocating GPs from their current practices.
I can see little advantage for the majority of the 26,000-plus patients currently registered with Orchard, Courtyard and Riverside surgeries for the following reasons.
Transport - A number of patients, myself included, do not drive. In their current locations, the surgeries can be easily accessed by taking a single bus journey.
Journeying to Broadbridge Heath, however, will require patients travelling to the bus station and then catching an interconnecting bus to the new health centre. This will turn a relatively quick visit to the doctor into a logistical nightmare, as patients hang around waiting for interconnecting services to deliver them to the new health centre for their allocated appointment time, and deliver them to their home bus stop afterwards.
Car drivers will, I believe, also find parking not to be straightforward as a large dedicated car park will be required, which I cannot see happening.
The three surgeries currently employ a total of 12 GPs, plus GP registrars, together with at least eight nursing staff, and it is envisaged that the new health centre will offer additional services.
This equates to a large number of patients visiting at any one time and I cannot see there being sufficient car parking facilities for both staff and patients. Any retail outlets located in the Quadrant will not take kindly to health centre visitors parking in their spaces, and the current leisure centre car park is usually well-used.
Where the surgeries are currently located, there is sufficient car parking spaces in town to satisfy requirements.
Access to GPs - Currently, for non-urgent appointments, it is not unusual to wait two weeks to see one’s doctor. If additional patients are registered from the new houses in Broadbridge Heath / Southwater area, this wait time can only get worse. It is currently very difficult to get same day appointments, unless one is prepared to wait in line towards the end of surgery time and see whichever GP is available. Again, if more patients are registered then same day appointments will become more difficult to obtain.
I can see little merit in this proposed plan as far as existing patients are concerned and I urge the CCG to rethink their strategy and try and attract additional GPs into the area to occupy a new Broadbridge Heath based medical centre. I also urge other patients of Riverside, Orchard and Courtyard surgeries to make their opinions known to the CCG and to their respective surgeries.