LETTER: More housing and less health care

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It is a shock to suddenly find the families of Storrington, Ashington, Thakeham and West Chiltington only have one surgery, following the action by the Surrey and Sussex Area Team in closing the Mill Stream Medical Centre. Was there no NHS monitoring, no Government supervision, no warning ?

Prior to this closure there were two surgeries in Storrington with the Glebe surgery looking after around 8,000 patients, while the Mill Stream surgery had around 5,000. Even before the closure of the Mill Stream surgery, based on current projections, the Glebe surgery was likely to outgrow its present premises within two years.

There is no likelihood of a surgery being built in Thakeham to cater for the families there and the residents of the 148 new dwellings being built there, or even less in Ashington, where 40 new dwellings have recently been built.

In addition, there are a number of developments in and around Storrington, either being built or have planning permission, for example, the proposed Wates development north of Melton Drive of 102 units, would increase the total to over 500 units, approximately, an additional 1,500 people needing medical care where the NHS authority, the council and the Government have let a lack of supervision, a lack of assurance and a lack of care reduce the availability of standard health care for the very young, old and injured.

Ratios for GP and patient numbers depend on how many high demand patients there are on the list. Places with ‘younger’ upwardly mobile patients may get away with 2,000 per GP, but the figure may be as low as 1,500 in other areas.

It has to be pointed out that much of the buildings under construction, or recently completed in Storrington, are for the elderly and this has a greater impact on the provision of health care as a whole.

While the NHS writes to the Mill Stream patients telling them to register with the Glebe Surgery or practices in Pulborough, Steyning and Billingshurst and our MP, Nick Herbert, wrings his hands, the elderly, the very young and families in Storrington, Ashington, Thakeham and West Chiltington have to adjust, and travel, to an unknown alternative health care provider.

It is Nick Herbert’s friend and colleague, Planning Minister, Nick Boles, and Nick’s Government which has advocated the mass building programme in our area and is now exacerbating our health care problems by stressing the Glebe surgery and making our frail and elderly travel to distant surgeries.

There is little prospect of the current health care demand being met. Any more Government advocated new housing developments, enforced by their unelected and remote Planning Inspector, will result in our health care provision being degraded to the point where it is not available to those who need it most.

Nick Herbert should stop wringing his hands and advocate the ‘localism’ his Government promised when they were elected as our representatives in Parliament and Nick Herbert should be protecting our green fields, not ensuring Local Plans conform to Government planning diktat so as to carpet our countryside in housing, but less health care.

Meanwhile, the council, the NHS and the Surrey and Sussex Area Team should be looking how they can utilise, for local benefit, a purpose built Mill Stream Medical Centre and provide a decent health care for all.


UKIP Arundel and South Downs Parliamentary Candidate, Chanctonbury, Ashington