BSCF letter to NHS on Primary Health Care in Bishop's Stortford

The Chief Executive
East and North Herts CCG
Charter House
Parkway
Welwyn Garden City
Herts AL8 6JL

The Chief Executive
NHS Hertfordshire
10 Parkway
Welwyn Garden City
Herts AL8 6QA
7 October 2018

Dear Chief Executive

PRIMARY HEALTH CARE IN BISHOP'S STORTFORD

I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation about the provision of GP services in Bishop's Stortford. The Civic Federation is a partnership between the Civic Society and the active residents’ associations in the town which was formed to speak up on their behalf about the major developments affecting the town. New developments are now taking place in the town on a scale which we have not experienced for many years. When completed, they will lead to an increase in the town’s population of some 25%.

The new developments at Bishop's Stortford North and the station goods yard have been many years in gestation and were anticipated in the last East Herts Local Plan which was adopted in 2007. So the authorities responsible for the provision of health care have had plenty of time to anticipate and prepare for the consequences of this population growth. Our members have played an active role in the preparation of the two Neighbourhood Plans which cover Bishop's Stortford. One of the concerns which featured most strongly in their preparation was about the adequacy of facilities for General Practitioners.

Two of our busiest practices are based in the town centre in South Street and Church Street. It has long been recognised that those premises are not fit for purpose. Indeed, a few years ago the South Street practice attempted to move to a new purpose built facility but was refused planning permission mainly because the proposed location was so inaccessible. The need remains for suitable GP premises in or close to the town centre. Very often the people most in need of their services (such as the young, the old and the sick) will not have access to a car or will not feel fit enough to drive if they do. So a town centre surgery provides the best possible means of access by public transport.

While we would not feel qualified to promote a particular location we note that work is about to start on the development of the station goods yard while East Herts Council are developing plans for the site which they own in Old River Lane. It may also be the case that changes in shopping habits would make it possible to reconfigure surplus retail units to form a new surgery.

My reason for writing to you now is that the opportunities which currently exist may not remain available for very long, while the increasing demands placed on those services by population growth are already happening. We would therefore like to be assured that the responsible public bodies are actively discharging their responsibility to ensure that our growing population is provided with adequate health care.

I look forward to hearing from both of you.

I am copying this letter to Mark Prisk MP.

Yours sincerely

JOHN RHODES
PRESIDENT