Now we’re back at work, I’m continuing to answer some questions about the scale of development and I’m still answering question 4: what infrastructure is going to be provided to match this huge increase in population, if any?
I talked about schools (three primary schools and hopefully a new secondary school). I’ve mentioned the Wantage Eastern Relief Road and the Grove Northern Relief Road and the lack of other road improvements. I’ve also covered the lack of connectivity and poor quality of cycleways.
So now health.
In 2012, a representative from NHS England said that the plans for an extension to the Health Centre on Mably Way were ‘imminent’. Now, 2022, the plans have finally been submitted to the Vale for approval.
So although the surgeries may have more staff (and might soon have more space) – will this be enough?
In 2016, the inpatient beds in Wantage Community Hospital (which were used for respite, rehabilitation and end of life care) were closed temporarily and have yet to reopen.
Maternity births and Physiotherapy closed temporarily in 2021 because of shortages of staff.
When the Local Plan 2031 was being approved in 2016, we raised the issue of the capacity of the health services and the response from the District Council was that they ‘would welcome involvement in providing the necessary health care services’ but nothing was included in the plan.
A 2020 study found that residents of OX12 attended nearly 50,000 outpatient and follow up appointments in Oxford between April 2017 and March 2019 so more outpatient services in our local area would be better for both climate change and the stress levels of patients travelling to appointments.
There are no concrete plans to improve services in this area except the current extension to the surgeries. Decisions about the inpatient beds in the Community Hospital are unlikely to be taken before 2023.
We have a new facility on Grove Road in Wantage with a 70 bed care home and an assisted living facility with 50 apartments which adds additional pressure on GPs.
Detailed plans will be approved soon for an additional 72 bed care home on Crab Hill and the outline plans approved for Grove Airfield included a further 60 bed residential care facility.
We know that health services are under severe stress throughout the country but planning for the future health services is surely something which should be included in local plans.