Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Health Provision in East Acton

I was invited tonight to represent the PCT at a meeting of residents’ associations which considered health provision in East Acton. The original trigger for the meeting was the apparent decision by Hammersmith and Fulham PCT not to go ahead with the proposed relocation of the Old Oak Surgery to a site in Armstrong Road in our ward. (see my post on 24th January). However, it was helpfully widened to consider generally how the local community could get better involved in planning decisions about health made by the Council, and in the premises strategy of the Ealing PCT and our neighbouring PCTs.

I and Baljeet Ruprah-Shah (the Acton Neighbourhood Manager for the PCT) talked about the feasibility study that the Ealing PCT is undertaking on what we could do to deal with the impact of the Old Oak Surgery on/off move. I stressed that this feasibility study is complicated by also needing to assess the likely extra demand for local health services from planned or possible new residential developments in the area.

Baljeet and I also talked with residents’ representatives about the way in which we at the PCT wanted to involve these kind of local meetings in the review of our premises strategy in our Strategic Servives Development Plan (SSDP). Residents present were (relatively) understanding of the position in which that Ealing PCT found itself, but were angry at the lack of communication from Hammersmith and Fulham PCT – who are currently responsible for the Old Oak Surgery.

As a group we held very useful discussions, led by Carmel Cahill of Ealing Community Network and Anita Longworth from the Council’s Planning Policy team, about the way in which the community could be involved in pre-application discussions with developers about the local impact (including on health services) of planning proposals. It’s the pre-application point that is really key to genuinely effective community involvement – it’s very much more difficult to effectively change things at later stages.

In the past, the Council have not always even consulted the PCT about the health implications of major developments – which has sometimes meant us often having to try to play ‘catch-up’ unsatifactorally at the end of the process. This has thankfully now changed, and we are regarded as a key player in the new Local Development Framework (LDF) process, which is replacing the former Unitary Development Plan (UDP) system. Whatever else changes, there’s always new alphabet soup to learn whenever you talk to planners.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Baljit Ruprah-Shah is a very cool person. We attended Acton Tech in the 70's, and as my friend she was always community conscious, so you got the right person for discussion. If you can please pass this on to her, my email is