Last Friday the Bucks Free Press had an article on its front page about a proposal for a medical “super hub” on the site of Wycombe hospital.
Buckinghamshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been allocated £8.8 million for three hubs in Bucks, including one in Wycombe which could serve up to 50,000 patients. It would offer GP, out-of-hospital and voluntary sector services. The link is below.
The article also reported the concerns of Ozma Hafiz, a Wycombe resident, about this proposal. She campaigns for better healthcare in Bucks. She was concerned that:
- Some patients would be forced to travel further for treatment if some surgeries are moved to the new site;
- Not enough GPs could be found to work at the hub as the NHS continues to battle huge shortages in healthcare staff across the country; and
- The CCG needs to fully consult the public about the proposals.
The BFP also reported the concerns of Councillor Tony Green, who is a Conservative councillor for Terriers and Amersham Hill on Wycombe District Council. He was concerned that:
- WDC had concluded that existing GP provision was too concentrated in the town centre rather than outlying areas; and
- Putting a super GP hub on the site of Wycombe hospital would concentrate even more provision in the town centre.
I went on BBC 3 counties the same day and expressed similar concerns; a GP super hub on the hospital site would mean more car or bus journeys, increasing costs and inconvenience for patients, and increasing traffic congestion and parking problems.
I couldn’t see how this super hub would meet the objectives of the proposal i.e. to “bring care closer to home” and “reduce unnecessary trips” to hospitals. In fact the proposal would do the reverse.
I thought many elderly and ill patients would put off making visits to their GPs which meant that major problems would not be caught early. And research indicates that patients do better if they have a long term, personal relationship with their doctor.
The CCG has said new facilities will cost more to run. It wants local planning authorities to increase developer contributions towards health infrastructure costs.
About 1000 new homes are going up in Councillor Green’s ward in Terriers - and the NHS hasn’t asked for contributions for any new GP practices there; it says there is no need. It seems it wants developers to pay for a new super GP hub but not a local GP surgery.
So what was the response of Steve Baker, Wycombe’s MP to these concerns? He tweeted:
“I was deeply disappointed yesterday when our local paper used a notoriously ill-informed campaigner to seek to provoke unnecessary worries about improvements to our NHS.
In a statement, Bucks CCG, who organise the delivery of local health services in Wycombe, said, ‘Across the CCG we have high quality GP services delivered from small, medium and large practices; we see the benefits of supporting all such styles and sizes because it enables patients to choose their preferred service’.
I look forward to full details of how the CCG will be improving local services through the new hub, especially following advice from patients and doctors that positive change is needed here.”
So he ignores the concerns and attacks the person making them. This is a despicable tactic generally used by someone who knows concerns are real but has no answers.
I’d like to ask Steve Baker some questions:
1. The CCG put in a bid for £8.8 million for the super hubs 18 months ago. It didn’t announce this publicly and has declined for over a year to say what plans it had for the Wycombe hospital site.
How can a health campaigner become well – informed if the NHS refuses to provide information?
2. The CCG finally announced its plans in a paper to a Bucks County Council Select Committee last week. The plans for all three hubs are covered in half a page at item 8 on the agenda. The information provided is minimal.
Isn’t it amazing that a campaigner actually managed to find out what was going on and express some concerns?
3. Why did you attack Ozma Hafiz, a campaigner, as notoriously ill-informed, and not attack Councillor Green when he was expressing similar concerns in the same article?
4. Why did you assume Ozma Hafiz was trying to provoke unnecessary worries but not Councillor Green?
5. Is it because Ozma Hafiz is an ordinary constituent and Councillor Green a fellow Conservative?
6. How many staff do you employ, paid for by the taxpayer, to support you in your work as an MP? How many staff do you think Ozma Hafiz employs to support her in her work as a campaigner? Which do you think should be better informed and better able to address residents’ concerns?
7. Ozma has done such a lot to raise the concerns of residents. And you have done so little, not even trying to fight for Wycombe’s A&E.
Don’t you think you should take a bit of a break from Brexit and address your constituents’ concerns? Rather than leaving it to Ozma?