Ray Dawe: Improving services across the Horsham district

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The district council is responsible for the delivery of a large number of services to you ranging from waste and litter collection, through to building regulation and planning.

What is less known is that while organisations such as the police, the fire and rescue service and the health services have a statutory responsibility for providing their specific services, the district council works alongside these agencies, collaborating closely with them, as ideas emerge for future provision of their services.

In recent years Horsham District Council has worked particularly closely in partnership with local doctors and the NHS to facilitate, enable or provide new or improved surgeries across the district.

Southwater and Steyning have all benefited from new, larger, modern surgeries with extra facilities. In Storrington, there has recently been the shock closure of Mill Stream Surgery, one of the two village surgeries that left over 4,000 people temporarily with no GP service.

The district council moved quickly to support the community by getting together all interested parties and granted emergency planning permission for Portakabins on the car park of the remaining Glebe Surgery as well as creating secure parking for the doctors nearby.

These swift actions have collectively helped minimise the impact on patients in accessing local healthcare.

The council has also sought to provide for current and enhanced options for medical needs in the greater Storrington area by purchasing the closed Mill Stream surgery.

We are working very closely with local GPs at how best to provide for current and enhanced medical needs for the community and how this could be funded.

For Horsham town, in June, the local Clinical Commissioning Group (composed of GPs and other clinicians) which organises the delivery of NHS services in the Horsham area, published proposals for developing medical services with their stated aim being to ‘support the development of a wider range of primary care services located in our communities (in GP Practices and the community hospital as well as at home)’.

The idea is to deliver a major new medical centre for Horsham as part of the proposed Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre project by combining three existing Horsham town centre GP practices there.

Their proposals include the retention of the largest of the town centre surgery buildings to ensure ease of access for those patients who would prefer the convenience of a town centre drop-in surgery while getting the bonus of additional medical services locally at a major new medical centre at Broadbridge Heath, with the extra specialist treatment and care it will be able to offer locally.

Some will see this as a very positive move.

For others though it would be a big change and they may worry that the service and convenience that they have been used to from their doctors could be compromised and GPs will need to address this.

As proposals for Broadbridge Heath move closer to being finalised, the council will need to know if a new medical centre is to be included there or not.

So while we can assist these organisations with their statutory responsibilities for providing us with specific services, it is not in our power, as a district council, to make a decision about how they should be provided.

In the case of medical provision in Horsham town, it is for the NHS and the doctors to decide on how best to provide services to local people.