Finally I managed to get Transport for London (TfL), Haringey PCT and me together in the same place to discuss the need for local people to be able to access services at the new Community Health Centre at Hornsey Hospital.
We have this wonderful new facility – which we all hope is going to be filled with services that local people will access – making life much easier for all. Fly in the ointment is that despite this being raised as a key issue at every public meeting (and all the private ones I have had with TfL or the PCT) nothing has been planned or delivered – or even promised for the future.
And of course – now the new Health Centre is here – and operational. But not a new bus in sight. Loads of people joined in my campaign for a new bus – or more accurately bus links that would enable them to access the new centre – when referred there from wherever they live in Highgate, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Fortis Green and Alexandra.
When the original hospital closed – they took away the W2 – but as it stood as of Friday – there were no plans for any new services at all. For the years of planning and campaigning that everyone has been involved in – it was always going to be needed – so imagine my shock – when at this meeting, which I had convened, TfL said they had no idea that there were services being (and much more to be) provided that would bring people from all over the West of Hornsey & Wood Green to the new Centre when they were referred on by their GP etc. TfL seemed to have thought that all that was happening was that the two GP practises had moved in and only they would need transport.
To be honest – I couldn’t believe it!
Given the promises on transport, the supposed discussions on transport – to be sitting there listening to the two key agencies basically saying that there was such a gap in communication that TfL didn’t know that there was an ongoing and expanding need for access to the site from provision of new services on the site was truly shocking?
I don’t know what the hell has been going on – but I will be writing to the Chair of Haringey PCT, Haringey Council and Peter Hendy (Commissioner of Transport in London) to bring this smartly to their attention.
Coming out of this ‘discovery’ the agreement was that TfL would now, in its new informed position, take away the issue and look at it. Haringey PCT would provide them with the report from the early transport study they commissioned (unbelievable that they hadn’t provided it already), their green travel plan (can’t imagine what that is if it doesn’t beg the question of public transport access). The PCT would provide some mapping – showing where GP surgeries are and where patients live – and therefore the gaps in public transport access to link into a route that serves the site.
At least they now both seem to understand there is a problem with providing a major new health facility with no transport provision. TfL kept saying it was well served by buses already – but then given they seem to have only been looking at the W7 trundling regularly in both directions between Crouch End, Park Road (where the health centre is) and Muswell Hill – they clearly haven’t even thought about other links at all.
I had been contacted by many local people on the back of our campaign to improve bus links to Hornsey. I can give you a couple of the examples from groups who have also backed this campaign which illustrate the point pretty clearly I think. One local organisation who have moved into the new facility already and whose clients will commonly have reduced mobility – albeit still very capable of getting on a bus if it can deliver them near to the health centre. They are concerned about how their patients will get to them. Also another professional who has contact with people with very differing needs in the borough writes to me that a number of people she is in contact with through her work have mentioned their concerns about the lack of usable transport links to the new site. They were told by the Chair at the Mobility Forum that this wasn’t a pressing problem as there were only two GP practises present on the site.
Clearly – this is a mess – and I just hope that both Haringey PCT and TfL sort it out now they have acknowledged that they haven’t even been looking at the right problem
On a better note – Haringey PCT thought that any transport provision to get to services, for example, that had previously been provided by the Whittington that might in future be provided by the Health Centre, if NHS transport had been used to transport people to their hospital appointment – that same provision should hopefully be switched to the new facility. They will pursue that.
But then, to add insult to injury – and despite the consultation on moving the critical bus stop on Muswell Hill only just having finished – TfL now say that they can’t see where to accommodate the move onto the flat of the Broadway or the roundabout. They say it’s up to Haringey Council to decide if they want to do something up at the roundabout. It’s so easy (and much cheaper) for TfL to say ‘not me gov’ – over to the Council or over to the PCT. And of course – in turn I have no doubt that the PCT and Haringey Council will say that it is TfL. So round and round that goes – with no one taking responsibility for ensuring that people can access the one bus that does go to the hospital direct from Muswell Hill – but which because it is sited on a steep, steep hill – is a hazard for those who are mobility impaired, mothers with buggies, wheelchair users and the older resident. To be continued…….