AN elderly man said he is “frightened” that older people in Didcot aren’t getting the medical help they need due to oversubscribed GP surgeries.

The man, who is a member of the Woodlands Medical Centre Patient Group, expressed his concerns after the district council announced that Ladygrove’s Oak Tree Health Centre is receiving £40,000 to help it expand. 

The funds are going towards building an extra consultation room which the surgery hopes will help it take on new patients from the 1,880 homes currently being built on Willowbrook Park, north of Ladygrove.

READ MORE: Health centre in Didcot given £40k to expand this month

Herald Series: (Ladygrove’s Oak Tree Health Centre)(Ladygrove’s Oak Tree Health Centre)

However the patient group member, who has chosen to stay anonymous, said the money is only a “drop in the ocean”.

“We have a terrible situation,” he said. “In 1996 there were three medical centres in Greater Didcot and there was then a patient role of 33,000 people.

“Here we are in 2022 with the same three medical centres but the patient role is now over 50,000 - that is why it’s very difficult to see a doctor.

“The three surgeries are firefighting. If anyone rings any of the local surgeries you’re put in a queue and people are waiting for about 45 minutes and when you get through all the appointments are gone.”

The man said the patient group is “getting unhappy” and criticised South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, for approving housing developments in the town which is bringing more patients to the surgeries.

READ MORE: Long-awaited vital Wantage Health Centre extension finally given go ahead

Herald Series: (Ladygrove’s Oak Tree Health Centre)(Ladygrove’s Oak Tree Health Centre)

He said: “Either the council is being stupid and providing developments without proper infrastructure or the Oxfordshire Clinical Group are proving to be inept.

“It’s quite frightening. Telephone diagnoses are being made because doctors don’t have the time and I’m quite worried.

“Is primary care in Didcot sinking? Has it become the titanic of South Oxfordshire with healthcare as the iceberg?”

He added that he is in Seventies and he and other people his age struggle to speak to doctors on the phone.

He said: “I’m frightened that someone someday is going to go to that big surgery in the sky as there hasn’t been the ability to tend to that patient.

Herald Series: (Google Maps)(Google Maps)

“My friend said to me, “I think I will call my caretaker now and miss out the middleman’.”

The patient group member said that £400,000 would be “more worthwhile” for the surgery in Tyne Avenue as it could help pay for the salary of more doctors.

READ MORE: Developers took six years to review plans for new tech park in Didcot

“I’m fed up,” the man said. “I’ve broken my silence and that may be against protocol but I care for my fellow citizens.”

A spokesperson for South Oxfordshire District Council said: "Whenever the council grants planning permission for larger new housing developments, it identifies how to meet the new residents’ needs for health facilities like GP surgeries. 

"Before that stage, the council also identifies how health needs will be met when identifying land for development in the Local Plan.

"The council works with the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to do this and assigns funds from Community Infrastructure Levy to pay for health infrastructure. 

"Ultimately, the council is in the hands of the Clinical Commissioning Groups to decide whether they want to expand existing health facilities like GP surgeries or have a new facility."


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This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford and Didcot.

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