The GP surgery on Ware Road in Kingsmead closed a few years ago; when it was closed it had around 5,500 patients registered. KNP has been unable to discover from the NHS how many of these were reallocated to a GP surgery in Hertford as the NHS does not hold these records (see FOI request link at the bottom of the article).
What we do know from the information provided by NHS England is that there are 6,075 Kingsmead residents registered with a Hertford GP surgery ie who are registered at a GP surgery in the nearest town. A further 3,450 people are registered at surgeries in Ware and 212 are registered at surgeries in Hoddesdon. NHS England was unable to confirm how many people in total from Kingsmead are registered at GPs surgeries outside of Hertford,
During our consultations with local residents we were made aware that there were people in Kingsmead that were extremely unhappy as they had only been offered a GP place in Hoddesdon or Ware as a replacement for their previous GP in Ware Road. The figures provided by NHS England in response to our FOI request support this anecdotal evidence as a high percentage, around 30% of Kingsmead residents, are registered outside of Hertford. It's worth noting that the total number of Kingsmead residents having to travel outside of Hertford to visit a GP is over 3,650 ie under 2,000 people less than the 5,500 people that used to be registered at the Ware Road GP surgery.
So, why is this a problem? When Ware Road surgery was open Kingsmead had a GP surgery that was within a 20 min walking distance of most of Kingsmead in line with the 20 minute neighbourhood principle which is a key tenet for the Kingsmead Neighbourhood Plan. During our consultation we have received a number of complaints that elderly people are now forced to take two buses to get to Hoddesdon or Ware to visit a GP rather than being able to just ‘get a bus down the hill’ from Pinehurst/Foxholes to Ware Road. Public transport to both Ware and Hoddesdon for people without a car from either Pinehurst or Foxholes presents a tortuous route due to the topography as direct public transport is limited to a bus to Hertford and this is particularly tricky for those with mobility issues. Walking and cycle routes from both Pinehurst and Foxholes to Ware and Hoddesdon involve either ‘travelling the long way around’ on busy roads with poor or no pedestrian/cycle provision or attempting to cross over Rush Green roundabout (see other articles on the opportunity to reconnect three historic Rights of Way that used to connect but that were truncated by the construction of the roundabout) to reach the Restricted Byway over the A10 slip roads or walk along the gutter at the side of Hoe Lane, dodging the oncoming traffic.
While we cannot obtain the data to show how many of the third of people living in Kingsmead were registered at the Ware Road surgery it is evident that there are nearly the capacity of the Ware Road surgery now registered at surgeries in Ware. Ware has plans for a large development to the NE of the town; by planning an additional GP surgery in Kingsmead this could backfill to provide an accessible GP surgery and free up places at surgeries in Ware which would benefit patients from this new development rather than cramming them into already over loaded local surgeries.
Kingsmead is a highly polluted area (see other articles) which has a huge detrimental impact on health. Transportation issues are recognised as the number one barrier to healthcare. Providing local healthcare not only removes the transportation barrier it will also reduce the number of car journeys as a surgery or pop up healthcare located within Kingsmead would facilitate active travel for those that can and reduce travel distances for those with mobility issues. The closure of Ware Road surgery has been part of the reduction of services and infrastructure to Kingsmead that has been allowed to occur over the past few decades; Kingsmead has lost pubs, a vets surgery, a community centre and various employment areas until a respected Hertford councillor characterised Kingsmead as 'just housing there's nothing of interest there'.
Freedom of information request answer can be seen here: