Transport worries ahead of the new Wollaston surgery opening

Stourbridge News: Concerned about the lack of public transport to the new medical centre: Cllr Barbara Sykes with Norton residents Louis and Marjorie Barber. Buy this photo: 051432L. Concerned about the lack of public transport to the new medical centre: Cllr Barbara Sykes with Norton residents Louis and Marjorie Barber. Buy this photo: 051432L.

ELDERLY and infirm patients could struggle to get to Wollaston's new multi-million pound medical centre due to a lack of public transport links.

The derelict Foster and Rastick building, off Lowndes Road, is currently being transformed into a state-of-the-art surgery, which will be occupied by doctors from Worcester Street Medical Practice in the spring.

But despite having the facilities to provide GP services for 26,000 patients, Wollaston councillor Barbara Sykes said she is concerned that those who do not drive will not be able to get there.

The current site in Worcester Street has a bus stop right outside but the new site isn't bus friendly.

The layout of the new centre's car park does not allow buses enough space to turn around in one swoop and the surrounding roads are also unsuitable for turning.

Cllr Sykes explained: "If a bus goes on to the new site it can't make a complete circle - it would need to reverse. But if a bus has to reverse they have to have a second person on it to help.

"The nearest public transport to the new surgery will be the bus stop on Enville Street and people will have to walk all the way down Lowndes Road to the surgery. It's a pretty long road - especially for elderly people."

Said she has looked into the possibility of opening the end of Bradley Road up but said it would be "financially impossible" and added it wouldn't be fair to ask the council tax payers of Dudley to foot the bill for what would appear to be "a planning oversight".

Cllr Sykes continued: "It's going to be a great facility for those who can get to it but it is not going to adequately serve a lot of people that are existing patients. If people can't get there, they will have to look at changing doctors.

"It would be great if it could be resolved to the benefit of their patients."

Nick Jackson, operations manager at Worcester Street surgery, said: "For the last 12 months we have been actively pursuing the transport options with relevant parities and will continue to do so."

A spokesman for Lye-based Hansons Local Buses, confirmed the surgery had been in touch and said: "It's not viable. We couldn't get a bus down there and they are not prepared to give up parking spaces to put a turning circle in."

A Centro spokesman said they had also been involved in discussions and added: “There have been talks between the surgery, council, ourselves and surrounding land owners about installing a turning circle so that the bus companies can consider putting on a service. Unfortunately, the parties have failed to find a way to provide that turning circle.

“As an alternative, the surgery has now been advised to look at providing a Ring and Ride stop on its premises. This would serve those patients unable to walk from the nearest stops which are less than 300 metres away and well served by buses.”

Comments (4)

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10:48am Thu 30 Jan 14

The Villan says...

I'm sorry, but some of the older generation really aren't happy unless they are moaning about something and being a little negative.

This is going to be a great facility with more than adequate parking etc. unlike the Worcester Street Surgery.

I am sure the majority of patients will get there by car or by bus, with those who cannot drive taking advantage of the Ring and Ride service. That is what the Ring and Ride is for, a service to be used by those who have limited mobility or no car. Plus it's cheaper than a taxi!

All age groups should look at the positives and stop looking for negatives.
I'm sorry, but some of the older generation really aren't happy unless they are moaning about something and being a little negative. This is going to be a great facility with more than adequate parking etc. unlike the Worcester Street Surgery. I am sure the majority of patients will get there by car or by bus, with those who cannot drive taking advantage of the Ring and Ride service. That is what the Ring and Ride is for, a service to be used by those who have limited mobility or no car. Plus it's cheaper than a taxi! All age groups should look at the positives and stop looking for negatives. The Villan
  • Score: 3

4:10pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Champton lad says...

Thought for a moment that this posting was from Stourbridge's MP using her pseudonym - but it was posted far too quickly after the appearance of your front page article for either her or Conservative Central Office to have drafted it for her (experience proves). Typically, though, like her, totally negative. Further, patients and the general public would , I'm sure, like to believe doctors' practices to be overtly politically neutral and not to see, as happened at the last general election, one of the Worcester Street senior doctors appear with the (then prospective) MP on the latter's election leaflet posing in his surgery.

This Practice is one of the largest in the region with a huge number of elderly patients significant numbers of whom have been with the Practice for many years and who will be severely inconvenienced (if not traumatised, for many public transport users, whether habitual or otherwise) by the decision not to permit turn-around space for anything larger than a quite small coach. Imagine the increased volume of calls on the Ring-and-Ride service if even one-tenth of the practice's registered patients (let alone the elderly) is forced to use that service. And at what additional cost? There is a bus stop directly outside the current practice site in Worcester Street - which does not involve a hike of some 300 yards as one coach company considers acceptable for patients - and in all weathers.

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining and George Osborne's unemployment problem could be eased at a stroke if the Ring-and-Ride service had to recruit, train and employ additional drivers and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to purchase and fit out more coaches as a result of the vastly increased demand for its services. None of this at taxpayers expense, of course!

Further and significantly, the last government gave doctor practices, collectively and individually, a massive financial injection ostensibly for practice development. A significant part of that support went in increased pay awarded themselves by practice doctors. (Incidentally, what's the current average income for a partner GP in a practice such as this one?) Could some of that fortuitous windfall increase in income now be used as intended for genuine, long-term practice development, ie supporting patients, elderly or not?

Let's be honest, this problem has come about through a colossal (some say predictable) planning failure, solutions to which have been proposed but turned down, side-stepped or ignored by the practice management itself and some of its timid associates in this project. Solutions are there; it now needs determination, a little contrition but, significantly, an early acceptance of and selection from proposed viable alternatives in order to resolve the problem before the damage becomes irreversible. Patients deserve more than stubborn obstinacy by their respected GP Practice to accept genuine and valid alternatives. Yes, they may be expensive but you've had the money. Now dispense it.
Thought for a moment that this posting was from Stourbridge's MP using her pseudonym - but it was posted far too quickly after the appearance of your front page article for either her or Conservative Central Office to have drafted it for her (experience proves). Typically, though, like her, totally negative. Further, patients and the general public would , I'm sure, like to believe doctors' practices to be overtly politically neutral and not to see, as happened at the last general election, one of the Worcester Street senior doctors appear with the (then prospective) MP on the latter's election leaflet posing in his surgery. This Practice is one of the largest in the region with a huge number of elderly patients significant numbers of whom have been with the Practice for many years and who will be severely inconvenienced (if not traumatised, for many public transport users, whether habitual or otherwise) by the decision not to permit turn-around space for anything larger than a quite small coach. Imagine the increased volume of calls on the Ring-and-Ride service if even one-tenth of the practice's registered patients (let alone the elderly) is forced to use that service. And at what additional cost? There is a bus stop directly outside the current practice site in Worcester Street - which does not involve a hike of some 300 yards as one coach company considers acceptable for patients - and in all weathers. Of course, every cloud has a silver lining and George Osborne's unemployment problem could be eased at a stroke if the Ring-and-Ride service had to recruit, train and employ additional drivers and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to purchase and fit out more coaches as a result of the vastly increased demand for its services. None of this at taxpayers expense, of course! Further and significantly, the last government gave doctor practices, collectively and individually, a massive financial injection ostensibly for practice development. A significant part of that support went in increased pay awarded themselves by practice doctors. (Incidentally, what's the current average income for a partner GP in a practice such as this one?) Could some of that fortuitous windfall increase in income now be used as intended for genuine, long-term practice development, ie supporting patients, elderly or not? Let's be honest, this problem has come about through a colossal (some say predictable) planning failure, solutions to which have been proposed but turned down, side-stepped or ignored by the practice management itself and some of its timid associates in this project. Solutions are there; it now needs determination, a little contrition but, significantly, an early acceptance of and selection from proposed viable alternatives in order to resolve the problem before the damage becomes irreversible. Patients deserve more than stubborn obstinacy by their respected GP Practice to accept genuine and valid alternatives. Yes, they may be expensive but you've had the money. Now dispense it. Champton lad
  • Score: -1

9:31pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Simon Nicholas 37 says...

Public transport options should have been considered when the practice was given planning permission, and the practice should have funded it. This is a failure on behalf of the local authority planners and centro who would have been consulted on the application.
Public transport options should have been considered when the practice was given planning permission, and the practice should have funded it. This is a failure on behalf of the local authority planners and centro who would have been consulted on the application. Simon Nicholas 37
  • Score: 2

9:59am Wed 5 Feb 14

The Villan says...

Totally agree with Simon.

The issue here is the initial planning application and the subsequent planning meetings by the local authority who passed the application. This being passed before all issues regarding public transport and access by all was considered.

Therefore, it is a little bit rich that an elected councillor of the local authority feels the need to raise the issue now via publicity in the local paper. It's like closing the gate when the horse has already bolted.

What needs to be done at the earliest opportunity is a meeting between all parties concerned, that being the Medical Practice, the local authority and Centro to address this issue.

Hence, my initial solution of Ring and Ride or possibly an hourly minibus from the town centre to the new practice.

The only way to determine the need of patients without access to cars and/or private transport, is to conduct a survey within the practice, to actually see how many require assisted public transport to get there. Only then, will there be real evidence of the percentage of the patients requiring this option, to determine how much of an issue it really is.

To be proactive is better than to be reactive. Unfortunately, the planning committee failed on this one.

Lastly, for the record, I'm not Ms James or a Tory party member, so Champton lad remember "to assume is to FUBAR".
Totally agree with Simon. The issue here is the initial planning application and the subsequent planning meetings by the local authority who passed the application. This being passed before all issues regarding public transport and access by all was considered. Therefore, it is a little bit rich that an elected councillor of the local authority feels the need to raise the issue now via publicity in the local paper. It's like closing the gate when the horse has already bolted. What needs to be done at the earliest opportunity is a meeting between all parties concerned, that being the Medical Practice, the local authority and Centro to address this issue. Hence, my initial solution of Ring and Ride or possibly an hourly minibus from the town centre to the new practice. The only way to determine the need of patients without access to cars and/or private transport, is to conduct a survey within the practice, to actually see how many require assisted public transport to get there. Only then, will there be real evidence of the percentage of the patients requiring this option, to determine how much of an issue it really is. To be proactive is better than to be reactive. Unfortunately, the planning committee failed on this one. Lastly, for the record, I'm not Ms James or a Tory party member, so Champton lad remember "to assume is to FUBAR". The Villan
  • Score: 0

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