Calls for Dudley Council to back bringing healthcare services back to Pensnett

A leading Dudley councillor is calling for the support of the local authority in trying to bring back a full range of primary care health facilities, including the GP surgery, to Pensnett.

Councillor Judy Foster, a member for Brockmoor and Pensnett ward and deputy leader of the Labour Group on Dudley Metropolitan Council, with former councillor John Martin and the petition to health bosses at Brierley Hill Health Centre where the facilities at High Oak surgery were moved during the pandemic
Councillor Judy Foster, a member for Brockmoor and Pensnett ward and deputy leader of the Labour Group on Dudley Metropolitan Council, with former councillor John Martin and the petition to health bosses at Brierley Hill Health Centre where the facilities at High Oak surgery were moved during the pandemic

A range of facilities were once based at High Oak surgery, located on Pensnett High Street, but in 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, it became a temporary Covid assessment centre and was closed to patients.

GP and other services were moved about two miles away to Brierley Hill Health Centre, on Venture Way.

Now councillor Judy Foster, who represents the Brockmoor and Pensnett ward and is deputy leader of the Labour group on the Metropolitan Borough Council, has submitted a motion to the local authority calling for support and which is expected to be discussed at a meeting on February 28.

She said: "Concerned about the lack of communication to residents about the move and also that the future of High Oak surgery’s location was also under review, myself and former councillor John Martin presented a consultation petition to health bosses.

"The petition bore hundreds of signatures of patients and potential patients of High Oak surgery calling for a state of the art medical facilities at Pensnett.

"This was acknowledged but then responsibility for procuring facilities transferred to the newly-formed Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust.

"During late 2020 and 2021 several meetings were initiated with health bosses regarding concerns patients had raised.

"These included concerns about poor access to the facilities in Brierley Hill by a population known to have low car and information technology usage as well as poor bus links to the Brierley Hill surgery, which meant for many two bus rides, an expensive taxi journey or a steep walk uphill and crossing of a very busy road.

"The listening exercise undertaken by the predecessor organisations to the Trust was largely left to word of mouth and to individual volunteers, like myself, to knock doors and consult residents near the surgery without the benefit of a patient list that would have helped identify those most affected.

"An offer had been made by a local pharmacist to build a state-of-the-art surgery at Pensnett for rent at no more cost than the temporary High Oak surgery but was not being given serious consideration.

"Since the use of High Oak as a Covid testing centre ended, a limited range of services for a limited number of hours has returned to the High Oak location but these are insufficient for a diverse population, which due to new housing developments in the area, is increasing in size by the day.

"Ward councillors will be meeting with the new Trust in February when it is hoped full, proper and inclusive consultation will take place.

"I have consulted Healthwatch and have ensured representatives are also invited to all future meetings.

"I am now calling for the council to make representations to the Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust and other relevant health partners to commit to return the full range of facilities that patients enjoyed at High Oak pre-pandemic and to consider options for a state-of-the-art medical facility in Pensnett, with a comprehensive range of services like those enjoyed by those using the Venture Way facility, including the offer made by the local pharmacist."

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