The Joint Core Strategy, so slavishly promoted by the unelected and costly GNDP, calls for an investment of £53.3M over the next fifteen years to provide new health services. Now we all know what is going on the NHS and the transformational changes that the Coalition government is planning.
SNUB were concerned that due to these changes that NHS Norfolk, the local NHS commissioners (the ones who contract and pay for all of the NHS services in Norfolk), would not be able to commit to this level of expenditure particularly as they would be disbanded in 2013. So we asked the following questions under Freedom of Information:
1. Please detail the frequency of any meetings that NHS Norfolk have had with the officials from either the Greater Norwich Development Partnership or the individual Councils who make up this partnership to discuss these requirements and where I can find the minutes of these meetings?
2. Please confirm where HC1, due to be ready in 2011, is going to be built and who is funding the estimated cost of £1.03M.
3. Please confirm that if the additional housing as predicated by the JCS is approved that their are contingency plans in place for existing healthcare facilities to take up the additional patients until these additional facilities are provided.
4. Please confirm what plans are in place for the provision of additional ambulance cover for such an increase in need as predicated by the JCS and that the commissioners of the EoE Ambulance trust have this in consideration.
The following answers were provided:
- There have been a number of meetings with officials of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) over the past 3 – 4 years. Specifically on the infrastructure discussions, some 9 – 10 meetings where estates and public health issues have been discussed. These were informal meetings for which, to the best of our knowledge, no minutes exist.
- Management consultants retained by GNDP but which we had the opportunity to comment on provided the Infrastructure Framework data. HC1 refers to the suggested need for an additional 3 GPs by 2011 with the associated infrastructure cost estimated at £1.03m. The requirement for additional capacity in the city was recognised by NHS Norfolk and resulted in the establishment of the Timber Hill practice. No further GP capacity has been identified for the immediate future.
- There are contingency plans in place to ensure that existing healthcare facilities will provide the requisite service for patients until new additional facilities are in place. For example, discussions are already under way with Broadland District Council and the Hoveton & Wroxham practice to ensure appropriate facilities are in place at Rackheath as the “demonstrator” homes for the Eco town are built.
- Both commissioners and service providers jointly develop services to meet the changing needs of their population driven by a range of factors.
This raises a number of points that need discussing and comments would be welcomed and in particular the following:
Local residents may remember when the NHS Dussindale Walk In Centre was closed due to the opening of the new GP Surgery in Timber Hill in the City. At the time this new GP facility was being promoted as the local response to the recommendations by
Lord Darzi’s NHS review, High Quality Care for All, published on 30th June 2008. One of his recommendations was the establishment of an Equitable Access Clinic providing GP cover 7 days a week opening for 12 hours each day. On querying this with NHS Norfolk the following response was received:
“It’s a combination of both. The aim was to provide a “Darzi” solution – ie equitable access clinics with a drop-in capability, but in addition the intention was to provide a GP solution with capacity for them to have a registered practice list as well as the capacity to handle “unregistered” patients.”
I have no recollection of the Timber Hill surgery being promoted as additional GP capacity for the expected residents of the new houses in the North East growth triangle!
How would they get there? Well of course by car but, hang on, they will not be allowed to have one in the proposed Eco town unless they pay a parking premium.
Anyway how could they register, as they are not in the catchment area? Oh yes of course the coalition government is proposing to remove the catchment barriers for patient registration so that’s OK then the new residents can all trundle off to the City to see a GP unless of course they want to join the already long wait to see a GP at Hoveton and Wroxham surgery.
According to the answers the existing surgery at Hoveton is in discussions about providing a temporary solution for the residents planned for the 200 houses in the proposed exemplar development. These are the houses that 87.6% of local residents do not want! Of course we the great uninformed public will never know what is going on as the GNDP continue to hold secret meetings. Well the NHS constitution says that all changes to GP provision should be subject to public consultation.
The GNDP secrecy is confirmed by the fact that they have held “informal” meetings with the NHS and no minutes were taken! How does anyone know what was said over the past 3 to 4 years? How were actions from these meetings discharged if there were no minutes? Which staff members of NHS Norfolk and the GNDP who attended these meetings are still employed? It beggars believe that meetings of this importance go unrecorded. How many more meetings have been unrecorded? Is it the same for the provision of Education?
Finally the NHS is going through the largest transformation since its inception some 70 years ago. These changes will see local GP’s being handed real cash to commission local health services. They will therefore be responsible for providing the primary care facilities to support any additional houses. Will they be handed £53M by the government to provide this? No they will not; these new services will have to be provided from existing budgets!!