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Wantage residents fear health services not keeping up with expansion

Healthwatch Oxfordshire has revealed that residents of Wantage and Grove are worried that local health services are not keeping up with the increasing numbers of new houses in the area.

The independent health and social care watchdog spent three weeks in Wantage, gathering people’s experiences of using services in the area. Concern over the impact of the rapid expansion of housing development on access to GP services was a recurring theme.

Other themes discovered by Healthwatch Oxfordshire included:

  1. Concern about insufficient provision at the Wantage Health Centre on Mably Way;
  2. A reduction of public transport;
  3. The future of Wantage Community Hospital, which has been closed for two years owing to a problem with Legionella in the pipework, and
  4. GPs not referring children to mental health services quick enough, with long waits when they do.

As a result of these findings, Healthwatch Oxfordshire has made a number of recommendations, including:

  1. Improved communication between Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the people of Wantage about the expansion of the health centre;
  2. An open dialogue between Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the community about the closure of the community hospital;
  3. Increased mental health awareness training for GPs;
  4. When planning local health, social care services, and additional housing, authorities should consider the travel and transport needs of the local community including access to public transport and supporting local community transport schemes.

Rosalind Pearce, Executive Director of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: “Wantage and Grove are clearly expanding very quickly, and residents want an assurance that their services are going to be able to continue to meet their needs.
“In particular, people feel a great sense of ownership over the community hospital, and they are entitled to more transparency concerning the decisions being made about this facility.”

The Wantage & Grove Report 2018 is available to read on the Healthwatch Oxfordshire website at https://healthwatchoxfordshire.co.uk/our-reports/healthwatch-oxfordshire-reports/

To see more information about Wantage Hospital, see our special page: Wantage Community Hospital.

Next Steps

The next HOSC meeting is on 29th November 2018 at 10am at County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND, we intend to be there, will you join us?

Draft Thames Water Plans include a reservoir larger than Heathrow just north of Grove.

Thames Water have announced that their new plan will propose to bring the Reservoir forward to start construction in 2025 (a decade earlier than previously). The reservoir is now more than 50% justified on selling water to other water companies, not just to satisfy London's growth, which Thames have been forced to admit will be less than their original exaggerated figures had proposed.

For the most up-to-date information please see Abingdon Reservoir

What are we campaigning about?

Some 6,200 houses are in the pipeline for Wantage, Grove and the surrounding villages. More may soon follow.

Government guidelines say that development should be "sustainable". We do not think it is sustainable to put thousands of houses where medical facilities are increasingly inadequate, schools are virtually above capacity, there is little employment in the area, and roads to where there is employment are unsuited to commuting.

We came together to campaign for a better deal for our area. As it says in our Aims:

We are not against any development in Wantage and Grove but:

  • Developments should be proportionate and sustainable
  • The infrastructure should enhance and improve quality of life for its residents

The County and District Councils may be starting to take the re-opening of Wantage and Grove Station seriously.

See the District Council page Proposed Grove Station for more details.

Keep informed

For the most up-to-date information please see our newsletters and our Facebook and pages [open in new tabs]

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