For the last 3 years we have focussed our attention on two sites in Teddington, the Udney Park site which we are now asking our patients to support a planning application for, and the council-owned North Lane site.
About a thousand of our patients were kind enough to respond to our survey on these two options, and these showed support for both sites (we are aware that the Friends of Udney Park have suggested in a recent newsletter that less than half supported a move to the Udney Park site. In fact 61% of our patients supported a move there, as the results which are still online show).
Why aren't you moving to the North Lane site?
Given the patient preference for the North Lane site, we stepped up our negotiations with Richmond Council about that site, asking them to allow us to revise our offer based on co-locating GP surgery space with charitable office space, and highlighting the benefits this type of development offers. As we had with original offer to develop plans to locate our new surgery with Elleray Hall on that site, we know that proposals like this benefit the professionals working in them, the councils and commissioners which fund them, and ultimately you as local residents using community services. There is evidence from the Local Government Association, NHS Improvement, Age UK, and the government's GP Forward View supporting these benefits, and we shared this and the mention in the Local Plan of similar schemes, which states new social and community infrastructure "where practicable is provided in multi-use, flexible and adaptable buildings or co-located with other social infrastructure uses which increases public access."
Despite this, and despite our having paid for detailed plans for the site along with a fully-costed valuation which was the basis of our offer, the council refused to consider selling us the site, and in May 2017 told us repeatedly that the option of a GP surgery on the site "is now closed". Although they returned to the table after pressure from the surgery, regrettably they did so only on condition that further discussions were confidential. They subsequently made a proposal which, after discussion with our Patient Participation Group, we rejected on the basis that the council were unable to say who would be designing any potential building, what their experience was of healthcare, what the surgery and our patients' involvement would be in the design process, or who would ultimately own the site. In addition, despite our having provided them with detailed floorplans and room schedules more than 2 years previously, they had not even an outline design for the building. As such we found it hard to see them as able to deliver an appropriate building even if they genuinely wanted to.
What about other sites?
We are aware that there are other sites which could potentially accommodate a GP surgery in Teddington, including the telephone exchange, the police station, and so on. We are keeping track of all these sites and have had discussions with some interested parties. However, as the experiences with Udney Park and North Lane have shown, these things take years to develop, and Teddington has a need right now; further, all these sites are likely to be sold (and in the case of the police station the Met have stated they will be sold) to maximise value, meaning for residential use. We will of course monitor these and other sites, but we have a viable option right now which we are asking you to support.
What have you done before this?
We have been in discussion with NHS England, the Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group, and various medical developers for the past eight years without success. The loss of commercial property across London to residential use, the limitations of funding for GP surgeries, and the failure of capital funding promised to General Practice by central government to materialise have all contributed to our not finding new premises.