Future of Emsworth Victoria Hospital Site and the Emsworth Surgery
Dramatic recent changes have occurred
The Emsworth Neighbourhood Plan will include a section on healthcare facilities and services particularly in relation to the Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital (EVCH) site which is a key site at the centre of Emsworth and could form part of a community hub. We intended to include draft planning policies stating a clear preference for that site to be used for healthcare services. In order to support this policy and the growing need for healthcare services in Emsworth, we asked David-Christopher Thomas, a health care strategist and economist and local resident, to draft a discussion paper ‘Discussion Document: Emsworth Healthcare Futures’. The paper is intended to generate a debate on the future shape of those services and the options as part of developing our evidence base for the Plan. We are very grateful for the work that David has done on this for us pro-bono.
We sent the paper to the Emsworth Surgery Practice, the Patient Participation Group and the South East Hants Clinical Commissioning Group to ask for their views and to engage with them about the issues it raises. We received replies from the Surgery and the CCG which informed us that, contrary to previous discussions, the Practice is pursuing the option of moving to a site at Redlands Grange and will be consulting patients about this shortly. Copies of their letters are available here >>>and again here>>>.
In light of this significant change in the NHS’s plans for the surgery and the EVCH site, our Committee met to consider the implications of this for Emsworth and the Neighbourhood Plan. In terms of the Neighbourhood Plan, this proposed move to Redlands Grange (RG) would be a fundamental change to the site policies the Forum has been considering for the EVCH site and contradicts the findings of a residents survey we conducted over a year ago which were overwhelmingly in favour of the EVCH being the location of the new Surgery. However, that survey did not give the option of the RG site for the new surgery.
As you will know, the EVCH site is a key gateway site for Emsworth, part of the town’s heritage that was bought and paid for by local people. It was put up for auction by its owners NHS Property Services a few years ago and, after community action stopped the sale, was subsequently designated an ‘asset of community value’ by Havant Council under the Localism Act. Weare now told by the CCG that NHS Property Services would dispose of the site after it has been declared surplus by them once the new surgery is operational.
The Forum has been advised by its planning consultants, Aecom and Feria Urbanism, that there is evidence that surgeries based on edge of settlements don’t work well because of poor access (which lead to missed appointments) and the negative impact on footfall in town centres. This leads to failing retailers and fewer amenities for local residents. The Redlands Grange is not in the centre of the Emsworth populated area – even after planned new developments – and a large proportion of existing patients/residents are likely to be further from the surgery than they are today. It is also not served by public transport and would undoubtedly increase traffic volumes in the narrow lanes around Westbourne.
The Redlands Grange site’s use for community purposes is part of the S106 agreement agreed at the time of the development of Redlands Grange and already has outline planning permission for a surgery.
After a wide ranging discussion our Committee agreed that:
• genuine and transparent public consultation must take place on the proposed new surgery location before a final decision is made. Therefore the Forum should assist the PPG/practice consultation and conduct a community consultation as it was believed that the Practice will only consult its patients
• at this stage, in the absence of the detailed information, and without knowing the views of the community on the Redlands Grange option, it was not possible for the Forum to state a clear preference for either of the two options currently being discussed. It was acknowledged, however, that in planning terms, the loss of the surgery from the centre of the town would be damaging to the retail economy and the social cohesion of the town centre
• the Forum should engage further with the Surgery, PPG, CCG and NHS Propco to understand better their position
• we should seek detailed information including costs of the options being considered so that an informed consultation process can take place
• we should seek to build consensus and work positively and constructively and in partnership with the Doctors, CCG and NHS Property Services
We will continue to work on this basis and keep you informed of developments. If you would like to help us with this work – particularly the public consultation please do contact the Forum Chair, Stephanie Elsy, on Stephanie@stephelsy.net.