Calls for new hospital in Dunmow
- Credit: Archant
Dunmow is in real need of a hospital if the town is to cope with the onslaught of new developments, according to the deputy town mayor.
Councillor Barrie Easter, a member of the Patient Participation Group (PPG) at Angel Lane Surgery, has called for action to be taken to get the facility brought to the area.
He told the Broadcast the hospitals surrounding the town, including those in Chelmsford and Harlow, were struggling to treat patients referred from Dunmow and the situation will only get worse when new homes are built.
He said: “A couple of years ago at a PPG meeting we were told that doctors were not to refer patients to hospital unless it was absolutely necessary because they could not cope. If another 4,000 homes are built that will mean at least another 12,000 people, where will they go?
“We have to have something like this in Dunmow or the town will die. We need to start talking about it now because if we leave it until the houses are built, it will be too late.”
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There are currently two doctors’ surgeries in the town and it has previously been discussed to build a third.
However, Cllr Easter does not believe this will solve the growing problem.
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Ideally, he would like to see a hospital in the area, either in Dunmow or close by, with a walk-in clinic alongside it.
“We do not need a doctors’ surgery, we need beds,” he added. “We have no extra bed capacity in the hospitals around us if 20 to 30 people were involved in a major road accident. That is the problem.
“This is the sort of thing Section 106 money should be spent on. I am not saying it has to be built now, but it does need to be looked at immediately.”
The West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the statutory body responsible for buying healthcare services for Uttlesford, has been evaluating the impact future housing developments will have on the area.
As a high number of homes are expected to hit Dunmow, the health provisions in the town are being looked into.
When asked by the Broadcast if a hospital could be built to cope with the increasing population, the chairman of the West Essex CCG, Rob Gerlis, said: “It is possible.” He added: “We are looking at all GP premises with a view to future primary care provision of services. We are also looking at estates in general across west Essex and how they can be usefully used.
“We are in contact with our three district councils as well as Essex County Council and are aware of probable and possible future housing projects and their impact on health-care provision. It remains a high priority for us and Dunmow is one of the areas on our radar.”
A facility similar to the Saffron Walden Community Hospital is one suggestion which has been mooted.
The site offers a number of different services and treatments under its roof, including general medicine, rheumatology and dermatology.
The idea has been welcomed by MP Sir Alan Haselhurst. He said: “It is a nice idea. I know that the CCG is looking at the general facilities in Dunmow and it is possible that something might develop from it. We are very aware of the fact Dunmow is a growing town and it is on the radar.
“Some kind of enhanced facility is needed. A new health centre is coming up in Stansted and we obviously need a facility in Dunmow as soon as it can possibly be arranged.”