After the last meeting of our local community forum (post
Great Barr & Newton Neighbourhood Forum Friday 6th Feb) I felt extremely concerned that the project would never happen and reported this on the blog. I then took the unusual step for me of emailing all the senior politicians and PCT bosses about my concerns. Following is a copy of that email:- Addressees Tom Watson MP Cllrs Joyce Underhill & David Hosell PCT Chair, Chief Exec, Jason Evans and PPI Manager.
Yesterday I attended the Great Barr & Newton Community Forum. Jason Evans from Sandwell PCT gave a report on the position with a clinic for Great Barr & Newton. This was very disappointing listening. Of 14 possible sites in the area all had been rejected and there are no other sites under consideration. This is extremely bad news for our area. May I remind you all that the project was supposed to start March 2009 and I have copy of a letter from Rob Bacon to that effect. Listening to Jason Evans makes me realise that this project is not going to happen. Because of my recent poor health I know more than most how essential it is for our area to have a clinic. It should not be some pie in the sky pipe dream, it is needed now. I have suffered directly and indirectly by the closure of Dr. Abyhankar’s surgery and by the temporary closure of Dr. Chitre’s surgery. Health care provision on the south west side of the canal is inadequate, although on the north east side there is a plethora of services which cloud the issues.
This email is I suppose a plea to all of you. To the politicians to put aside your political differences and work together to get this project moving, because without some real political leadership it is not going to happen. I do not see that leadership in fact yesterday those politicians present just seemed to accept the situation. To the leaders of the PCT to take off your blinkers re look at the sites provided start to think more for your patients and not of the preconceived site profiles you seem obsessed with. It had always been assumed that members of the public would be involved with site selection yet as far I know this is not happening.
I would like some assurances from all of you that this project is going to happen and your support for it.
My best wishes to you all"
So far I have received replies from Cllrs Underhill(2) & Hosell. I publish the responses from our councillors:-
From Cllr Underhill
I feel the Tanhouse Centre will turn out to be the most viable option. Unfortunately this will mean losing the community centre although at the moment it is 3/4 empty. This situation doesn't help the centre at all. Dr. Chitre is desperate to leave the clinic and find a new location in Hamstead. Tentative enquiries have been made with the owners of the Joker Pub but they are reluctant to sell.
What I don't want to see is the loss of another G.P. in the area.
I am investigating further the comment made by Jason about the Council having different plans for the Tanhouse Centre.
I see the loss of the community centre a small price to pay for a clinic.
If it is left to the P.C.T. there will be no clinic and the loss of a G.P. Great Barr and Hamstead residents will be expected to use the Heart of Birmingham facilities proposed in Handsworth.
I have not been sitting on my hands over this but it is difficult getting residents to see the benefits of a clinic when their health is good at this moment in time.
From Cllr Hosell
As you know I have been from day one the loudest voice in Newton
Ward regarding the urgent need for a clinic in Hamstead to house the doctors and other health services urgently needed to serve the residents of this area, I will be speaking to Tom Watson at the earliest opportunity to ask for his help in our hour of need, I feel sure he will support us. I will keep you and others who have contacted me informed on any progress or actions I plan.
Yours David Hosell.
Also from Cllr Underhill 12/2/2009
Have started a dialogue with the PCT and Council. The PCT are happy at combining a clinic along with community facilities. Apparently this has happened in other areas.
Where does our MP stand on this issue? The silence from him and the PCT is deafening.
Our MP is in the bowels of the Cabinet Office has minister for blogs amongst other things. Ironic, that a constituent should be using that medium to criticise his lack of action over a major local issue. I can understand his reluctance to get involved because this area usually votes Lib Dem so he would perceive he would not loose too many votes. He also lost a very public spat a couple of years ago with the then Chair of the Towards 2010 program who is now Chair of our PCT. The row was over the potential loss of our A&E major trauma unit which we are loosing to the new hospital if it ever gets built. This leaves him politically weak and he probably is not up for the fight. At the very least he is guilty of neglect of our area which in my view is verging on abandonment.
So, shame on you Tom Watson MP.
The PCT silence though is rather less predictable and perhaps more worrying. They will have to go into a huddle and seek legal advice before responding to a thing like this. If, what Cllr. Underhill reports, is true then we are making some progress. My experience though is that we should approach this with caution, so, without some more detailed information on her dialogue I’ll remain sceptical. I can understand them not replying to me because I am known to them and they probably think “awkward old git” and why should we even consider replying to a single citizen with a bee in his bonnet about our plans. After all they know best. I have had meetings with their officers in the past and been mislead, I’m not about to repeat that exercise. I think we over here in Newton and Great Barr are being duped.
Any further responses and actions will, I hope, be reported on the blog. Where to from here and are we getting our clinic?
Watch this space.