A health body says GP provision in Borehamwood can be “strengthened” without needing to create a new surgery.
Calls have been growing in recent weeks for a new surgery in the south of the town – a neighbourhood currently without a GP surgery.
Members of the Hertsmere Labour party have been leading the calls, with its leader Cllr Jeremy Newmark raising the issue at a full council meeting in July.
Councillors also held a virtual meeting with dozens of residents last month who also have concerns about health provision.
A campaign is also running by a community group called SURGE – The Campaign for a Community Medical Centre in Borehamwood South, which has identified the former Directors Arms site as a place for a new surgery.
In a campaign video, calling for a GP surgery to be included in Hertsmere Borough Council’s upcoming local plan, Cllr Newmark said: “We as the Labour party have been warning about this for a decade. Since 2011, we’ve been campaigning on the disparity and the inequality that is caused by the lack of GP provision in Borehamwood.
“Speak to anybody in this area and they will tell you about the problems and difficulties they have in simply getting an appointment to see their doctor.”
He added in the council meeting on July 21: “It is our elderly relatives, our children, and our grandchildren that will suffer the outcomes of inadequate health provision.”
However, there is cross-party support for new GP facilities.
Borehamwood Conservative councillor Brett Rosehill encouraged residents, via social media, to contact Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – the body responsible for health provision in south west Hertfordshire – and let the CCG know about appointment waiting times and travel distance.
While Hertsmere’s MP Oliver Dowden said in his most recent newsletter: “I have met with local councillors and residents about a new GP surgery in south Borehamwood.
“I know that residents will benefit from this proposal and so I will continue to work closely with local stakeholders to support and back this proposal.”
However, papers from a member planning panel workshop meeting held on June 15 state the CCG has “received very few complaints” in the Hertsmere area about GP provision – adding members of the panel were “very surprised” to hear the CCG say there was “no need” for additional GP provision.
Responding to the latest calls, a CCG spokesperson told the Times: “We are committed to listening to patients and the local community and to working with GP practices to ensure services meet local needs.
“However, we are clear that access to primary health services in Borehamwood for current patients could be further strengthened without needing to create another GP surgery.
“We are working to supplement the GP workforce in Borehamwood and elsewhere by expanding the wider team of healthcare professionals who are able to support patients.”
The CCG has accepted that some local practices need more space to accommodate their patient numbers.
The CCG recently approved plans to move Schopwick Surgery in Elstree closer to Borehamwood in a new premises in Allum Lane, subject to planning permission, while it has also been working with The Grove Medical Centre and Fairbrook Medical Centre to “consider future premises needs and possible redevelopment solutions”.
The spokesperson added: “In exploring with practices how we can extend capacity in existing premises we will also consider future needs. As greater clarity on the local plan emerges, we will continue to work closely with Hertsmere Borough Council to ensure there is sufficient physical capacity for expected growth.”
Funding has been secured for a new healthcare hub in Borehamwood, but a suitable site is yet to be found, with land next to the Civic Centre in Elstree Way ruled out.
The principles behind ‘health hubs’’are to be able to bring together GP, community healthcare and other care and support services to provide people with holistic care through one facility.
The CCG says it is working with the council to find a “suitable site”.