Wednesday 28 March 2018

Overdevelopment means local GP and Dental Services at breaking point

Millway Medical Practice
Millway Medical Practice
At what point does overdevelopment in Mill Hill and the London Borough of Barnet become a public health concern? Given that there is a proposal for 800 odd flats on the Pentavia site and no plans for more doctor or dentist facilities locally, I would say that point has been reached. 

This was graphically demonstrated by a live thread on the "Mill Hill Families" Facebook page (this is a closed group so you will need to join to see the full thread). A simple question resulted in a deluge of replies, all demonstrating a very worrying theme.

A Mill Hill Resident asked the following question
"Does anyone know if Millway surgery has changed their appointment booking times? It used to be from 8am. The phone is ringing out with no answer and no appointments available online. Thanks"

The post resulted in dozens of replies. Here are just a few.

I was on the phone at 8am holding yesterday for 30 minutes listening to classical music & then I hung up! 

I tried to get an online appointment at 8.01 this morning. Had two attempts but by the time I had typed in the reason, they had both gone. Harder than getting Glastonbury tickets! Very frustrating. 

I spoke to them yesterday. They had 29 appointments and 26 people queuing in person. The remaining 3 appointments were put online and gone by 8.03am.
I called a few weeks back at 08:00 and after being on hold for 25 minutes, 15 of which I was "number 1 in the queue" I went round there. The surgery was empty and the receptionist told me there was a problem with their phone system (this was approx. 30 seconds after telling me there was a room full of people answering the phones so I should just call). Never did get an appointment!
This is just a flavour of the thread. To summarise, there are simply too many people in Mill Hill for the number of GP's and the number of dentists. To add another 800 flats in the locality will make a critical situation impossible. I've been a patient of Millway Medical practice for decades. I know many of the doctors well. When I signed up with the practice it was still in Millway, where Busy Bees nursery is now. The current site in Hartley Avenue was formerly the head office of Pizza Hut UK. When they vacated, the growing Millway practice used the opportunity to move to a then state of the art facility. My then Doctor, the esteemed Dr Carswell, told me that the new practice would mean that Mill Hill would have the best GP medical practice in Barnet. They would have nursing services to perform blood tests and all manner of other backup services, that patients had previously had to attend hospital to get. That was twenty odd years ago. Mill Hill has grown. We've had the Millbrook park development. Just about every small space has been built on. As I've been canvassing, I've noticed that all of the small plots of land are gone. The Mill Hill Lawn Tennis Association on Syvain Avenue is a small estate. Featherstone Garage is now Colenso drive. The plot of land opposite my studios on Bunns Lane is a housing development. Just a few of the small developments that have added to the pressure on Millway Medical practice. This is repeated across the Borough. Sadly we've not heard a peep out of our councillors or the Conservative Administration. 

Everyone knows that people need homes, however if there are not enough places at the GP surgery, not enough dentists and we haven't got more ambulances and fire engines to match the rising population, then we've built a dysfunctional town that is not fit for purpose for local residents. Barnet Council needs to hold a public enquiry into the state of local infrastructure. We need to identify the risks that overdevelopment is posing to residents. 

I have a strong vested interest in this. In 2011, I damaged my knee playing football. I went to see my GP who suggested a 360 degree health check. As there was nothing wrong with me, I wasn't overly worried, but the tests showed I had prostate cancer and two years ago I had to have a medical procedure to address it. From what I am seeing on the Facebook thread, I wouldn't have got to see a Doctor, I wouldn't have been recommended to have a series of what may have seemed unnecessary tests. I would probably now be facing a seriously life threatening diagnosis, where the Prostate cancer had spread. As a result of my condition, I require a quarterly blood test. Up until last year, I'd simply book into my GP surgery and a nurse would do it. This was part of the excellent service that Dr Carswell excitedly told me about when the surgery moved. Last year, the blood test service was withdrawn. Now I have to obtain a form from my GP, then go to Barnet or Finchley Memorial hospital. Why was it withdrawn? I was told that the surgery no longer had the resources to provide it.  Both Barnet General and  Finchley Memorial are difficult to get to via public transport. In short, Mill Hill residents first class medical service has been downgraded. The GP's are still excellent, but the whole issue of getting apppointments, forms for blood tests, repeat presecriptions is becoming ever more problematical. I am fit, healthy and active. I can use the web based booking service and I can work whilst I am hanging on the phone waiting for an answer. Sadly many elderly and disabled patients find this impossible. For some, not being able to get hold of a doctor is positively traumatic. 

That is why we need a GP service that is not overstretched. Barnet Council has allowed the local population to grow to such a level that we simply can't get to see doctors when we need them. If that is not a public health crisis, I don't know what is. 


Cheryl said...

I could not agree more Roger. I bumped into someone in the park this week who has been trying to get an appointment at Millway surgery all week. I thought she must be struggling with the online system as I couldn't understand why there weren't any appointments. Low and behold I needed to book an appointment for my husband to have a prostate check. I have given up trying now as it is too stressful. My husband won't get round to it but I have spent too long this week checking and checking again for an appointment to come up. I don't think a telephone consult being offered is going to help.
So sad. The implications of this poor service has such a profound effect on peoples health, not to mention the stress!!

Rog T said...

It is worth persevering with trying to get that check for your husband. I had one in 2011 and it detected cancer, which otherwise would have gone untreated. The earlier you catch it, the better the prognosis. Hopefully it will be clear and then you can rest easy.