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Column 21st February 2018

The health service you were promised, and the health service you're getting

If you have been reading this column for a while you will know that Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has been working with local GP practices and patients to develop plans for the future of GP and primary care services and have now published the first versions of the plans covering each of the six locality areas in Oxfordshire.

One of the locality areas is the South West which covers 12 GP member practices in Abingdon, Didcot, Wantage, Faringdon, Berinsfield and Clifton Hampden and a registered population of 148,022.

They say that they have consulted on this and the consultation included a workshop in Didcot in November (reported in this column) and some consultation with the patient groups. A total of 47 people (out of the registered population of 148,000) responded to a survey.

The plan acknowledges the effect of poor public transport and specifically mentions Faringdon and Berinsfield/Clifton Hampden, but totally ignores the villages in the Wantage area that have no, or very poor, public transport to link to GP surgeries.

The population of South West Oxfordshire is rapidly growing, and is projected to grow by a third to nearly 200,000 in the next 10 years. The proportion of older people is also increasing as we all live longer but we are visiting GPs more often and the average number of appointments per patient has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

Current primary care premises cannot absorb the anticipated population growth, with some practices already struggling to find consulting and administrative space for their existing patients.  The plan states that “wherever possible, the capital costs of new or extended premises will be supported using developer contributions”.

Of course they should have thought of this 5 years ago when the agreements for the large developments at Grove Airfield and Crab Hill were signed, but at that stage we were promised expansion to the Mably Way practices by NHS England within 2 years.

The current plan states that “the Wantage Mably Way health centre will be extended in order to provide additional capacity for population growth in Wantage and Grove. Additional capacity for 4,500 patients is required within the next 5 years.”

It still doesn’t say when this extension will take place or how this will be funded and although there is considerable consideration of requirements of the 'frail and elderly patients', there are no solutions as to how the lack of accessible public transport will be overcome.


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