On Friday I visited Healthwatch in Denmark Street Wokingham at their request.
I thanked the volunteers for their interest in the services provided by the NHS and answered their questions on a range of issues.
There were individual cases over access to social care. I explained that these were matters run by the Council. Their first opportunity to sort out difficulties lies in a conversation with the Council officer handling their case. They have a right to involve their Councillor, who is elected to supervise Council policy and administration and to help residents sort out complaints and difficulties. There is also an independent appeal system where things go wrong, and a Local government Ombudsman if all else fails.
There were general concerns about our need for more GP service as the population of Wokingham grows. I explained that money follows the patients, so there will be more money for GP practises taking on additional patients. There is also capital money available from the NHS and local and national government for new premises to back new practices or practice extensions. A Councillor present reminded us that Wokingham had negotiated some money for additional health facilities in their deals with developers over new homes.
I am willing to pursue with Ministers and NHS England issues that they can influence. The immediate need is for our local CCG (local NHS management board) and the relevant section of Wokingham Borough Council to finalise their views on where GP practices can and should be expanded or added to provide services for the new housing areas being built. I will also make enquiries of them about this.