Barking Riverside residents call for GP and pharmacy
- Credit: Archant
Residents of the borough’s newest estate say they need a GP surgery or pharmacy as the area’s population continues to grow dramatically.
Plans for Barking Riverside specify that a GP a doctors’ surgery cannot be installed until 10,000 people are living there, putting pressure on the surrounding surgeries.
The two nearest practices, Dr Kalkat and King Edwards Medical Group – both based at Thames View Medical Centre, in Bastable Avenue – are a 1.3-mile drive from the estate’s central hub, the Rivergate Centre in Minter Road.
Kaleem Haider, practice manager of the latter, says the increased patient numbers are putting his surgery under greater strain.
“A lot of the new arrivals to the Barking Riverside development are coming to our surgery and we’re registering them as new patients,” he said.
“There’s no maximum number, but the growing numbers are putting a strain on the surgery, so we have had to take on more staff to cope.
“We’ve taken on two more GPs, which is all practice funded, not NHS-funded, so we can continue to be able to provide a good service for patients.
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“It’s a substantial financial strain – each GP costs us about £100,000 a year.
“We’re trying our best to cope, but it’s not like we’re a hospital trust – we have very limited resources.
“The government should really provide us with extra resources so we’re able to cope with the increasing number.”
Despite being designated as one of England’s 10 “healthy towns” by the NHS, the very limited stock of supermarket drugs at My Local, in Minter Road, is the only medication available on the estate.
Charity administrator Henry Dodds, 31, of Minter Road, insists the creation of a surgery and pharmacy should be top of developers’ agendas.
“There’s nothing more important than healthcare, especially in a borough that relies on two hospitals in other boroughs, one of which is under special measures,” he said.
“We have a few half-shelves in My Local but if you need Calpol for a screaming kid, it’s not as if you can just take them on the bus up to the Britannia pharmacy in Thames View.”
Although the EL1 bus route now runs an increased service from the Rivergate Centre, relying on public transport is just not feasible for everyone.
Just like his neighbouring practice, Dr Kalkat has also had to take on more staff, although he says his biggest concern is for his patients.
“We’ve had to take on more staff to cope with numbers, but the main issue is the distance for patients,” said Dr Kalkat.
“There needs to be a GP surgery in Barking Riverside. The patients coming from there often tell us it’s a long way to come, especially for the older ones.”
At least two companies have been refused permission to open a pharmacy in the Rivergate Centre, but NHS England confirmed an appeal had been lodged by Britannia Pharmacy.
Mum-of-four Kristy Nelder, 32, of Drake Close, suffers from sciatica and water retention in her legs:
“We have nothing here, it’s beyond a joke,” she said. A lot of people living here have three or four children so you can’t just hop on a bus.”
Matt Carpen, planning director at Barking Riverside Ltd (BRL), said: “Barking Riverside is a 20-year project and providing new local facilities and services is a critical part of our vision for the area.
“BRL has been actively marketing the retail units at the Rivergate Centre and there has been significant interest in opening a pharmacy – something we fully support and will work to bring forward.”
A spokeswoman for the Barking and Dagenahm Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We are working closely together to develop services to meet the growing population around Barking Riverside.
“This includes identifying how many people will be moving to the area across the stages of the development and working with practices to see what their capacity is.”
Cllr Maureen Worby, cabinet member for social care and health integration, said: “We are currently in discussion with the CCG and NHS England about how to meet the needs of our residents in the short term and planning for new and improved health provision as the development continues.”