Information about health services and better hospital access are needed by Haverhill.
They are among the conclusions of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which last Thursday (26) unveiled its Health Needs Assessment for the town.
The document was compiled following a series of forums and consultation that began in June and represents the first time a CCG has created such a detailed assessment on any town in the east of England.
The assessment was originally due to be unveiled in August, but following feedback that it should be after the school holidays it was instead revealed to a crowd of around 50 people at Haverhill Leisure Centre last week.
Introducing the meeting, the CCG’s chief operating officer Dr Ed Garratt said they wanted to discover the ‘big health issues’ of Haverhill and address them. “Our ambition is to make Haverhill healthier, and we will do that by working together,” he said.
With one of the issues being the lack of information about what services are available in Haverhill, the CCG has worked with the town council to compile a directory detailing this and printed 2,000 copies.
Town clerk Will Austin said the council now aims to create a condensed version and put one in every home.
Dr Victoria Matthews said Haverhill compares equally or favourably to many health issues in England, Suffolk and St Edmundsbury. The town has fewer people dying early than the national average and less people who think they are in bad health.
More people die of cancer and circulatory disease in Haverhill than nationally and also has more people with asthma and depression and with alcohol problems and needing hip replacements.
Some problems were linked to depravation, with three of Haverhill’s four wards among Suffolk’s 20 per cent of most deprived wards.
Cllr Pat Hanlon said: “This means these people have poor transport and poor health so they need services. You have to wait seven weeks to see a doctor and that’s disgusting and unacceptable. It was just one ward, now it’s three and we can’t let it become four.”
Cllr Anne Gower said: “Not a week goes by without a phone call with someone telling me they can’t get an appointment with their doctor for two weeks and people need to understand what are their options. That’s terribly important because there isn’t the information an that’s something the Crown (Health Centre) could offer.”
Ambulance response times and poor access to hospital – particularly early buses to West Suffolk Hospitals – were also raised as problems.
Dr Garratt described it as a ‘really successful meeting’ and vowed that the CCG will now aim to address the town’s shortcomings highlighted in the report and at the meeting.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, October 3) Echo.