‘Perfect storm’ warning over town’s stretched health services


A doctor says NHS England must not “abdicate its responsibilities” to the people of Crawley.

Dr Amit Bhargava, chief clinical officer for Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), commented on NHS England’s actions on what has been dubbed a “perfect storm” of over-stretched health services in Crawley.

Speaking at a public meeting in Crawley Library on Tuesday (October 28), he said: “We must make sure that NHS England does not abdicate its responsibilities to provide equality of access to GP Services across the town for the people of Crawley, including those with greater needs.

“However, stretched and difficult the job is, the houses are being built and people will live there and people will have health needs.”

Cllr Chris Oxlade, Crawley Borough Council (CBC) cabinet member for Community Engagement, warned not having surgeries in Crawley’s two new neighbourhoods and West Green, dealing with the three-times over-capacity Bewbush surgery and moving the walk-in centre to Crawley Hospital would create a “perfect storm” for the town’s health services.

Cllr Oxlade said he and the leader of the borough council, Peter Lamb, sent four letters to NHS England calling for investment in its healthcare infrastructure since May.

He said: “We’ve bent over backwards to offer buildings and facilities for NHS England to use for local services.

“We’ve sent letters to NHS England pointing out the potential devastating consequences for residents in Crawley if they don’t get their act together. It’s very very frustrating when we are offering very good solutions to problems and the bureaucratic system is undermining us every step of the way.”

Dr Bhargava said the CCG was “having a fight” with NHS England arguing a surgery should be put in Forge Wood.

It was considering running a GP surgery in West Green as a “social enterprise” business.

Cllr Oxlade said: “Lots of young families and affordable housing will go in there [Forge Wood] and at the moment NHS England are saying they are not interested in putting a GP surgery, so they will have to go to Copthorne.

“It’s pushing the problem around the town.”

He said NHS England had not indicated it would build a GP practice in Kilnwood Vale as well and dozens of Kilnwood Vale residents had registered with the over-subscribed Bewbush Medical Centre.

Sarah Creamer, interim director for NHS England Surrey & Sussex, said: “We are aiming to work more closely with CBC and our CCG colleagues so that we can address these challenges together in the interests of local people.”