Healthwatch Oxfordshire has revealed that residents of Wantage and Grove are worried that local health services are not keeping up with the increasing numbers of new houses in the area.

The independent health and social care watchdog spent three weeks in Wantage, gathering people’s experiences of using services in the area. Concern over the impact of the rapid expansion of housing development on access to GP services was a recurring theme.

Other themes discovered by Healthwatch Oxfordshire included:

  • Concern about insufficient provision at the Wantage Health Centre on Mably Way;
  • A reduction of public transport;
  • The future of Wantage Community Hospital, which has been closed for two years owing to a problem with Legionella in the pipework, and
  • GPs not referring children to mental health services quick enough, with long waits when they do.

As a result of these findings, Healthwatch Oxfordshire has made a number of recommendations, including:

  • Improved communication between Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the people of Wantage about the expansion of the health centre;
  • An open dialogue between Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the community about the closure of the community hospital;
  • Increased mental health awareness training for GPs;
  • When planning local health, social care services, and additional housing, authorities should consider the travel and transport needs of the local community including access to public transport and supporting local community transport schemes.

Rosalind Pearce, Executive Director of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: “Wantage and Grove are clearly expanding very quickly, and residents want an assurance that their services are going to be able to continue to meet their needs.

“In particular, people feel a great sense of ownership over the community hospital, and they are entitled to more transparency concerning the decisions being made about this facility.”

The Wantage & Grove Report 2018 is available to read on the Healthwatch Oxfordshire website at https://healthwatchoxfordshire.co.uk/our-reports/healthwatch-oxfordshire-reports/

Julie Mabbley