The headline on the front page of the November 19 issue (also CP online, 18-11-21) heralds a new chapter in the NHS.

The plans are now in hand to close two health centres in the main town and replace them in Wootton and next to Asda.

The planners have obviously forgotten that people who attend health centres need medical attention of some sort, which means they don't feel well.

So those who don't have access to a car — sometimes for medical reasons — have to travel on at least one bus, making them feel worse and potentially spreading contagious illnesses.

Those who do have a car will have to use it more often to get to the out-of-town facilities, adding to pollution levels and certainly not saving the planet.

We have been watching the decline in access to services we can expect from our health centres over the last ten years or so, but did anybody think that this would progress to the closure of the health centre itself to be replaced by facilities built out of town and where many patients will not be able to attend?

People who do not have cars are just as entitled as anyone else to access to health care.

The argument that the new facilities will give a better return on taxpayers' money does not ring true — most of us paid tax and NI all our working lives, and indeed some of us continue to do so. So it's our money involved, not that of a disjointed anonymous taxpayer.

The provision of primary care has now shifted from the General Practitioner dealing with minor problems and signposting to hospitals etc for those who need it, to the receptionist doing the signposting and the doctor dealing with the most insistent by telephone from goodness knows where.

The provision of out-of-town health centres must be thought through again with the welfare of the patients and their ability to access healthcare as the primary objective.

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