Issue 43 — March 1999
NHS funding changes could be to Jericho's advantage.
None of the three practices working from the Jericho Health Centre chose to be fund-holding. When the internal market was introduced within the NHS they did not think they would gain much by using their own budgets to shop around for services from different hospitals. The John Radcliffe and the Radcliffe Infirmary were always going to be the realistic choices.
The situation will change, however, from April with
the establishment of 'primary care groups' one of which will cover the
city of Oxford. This system, which will eventually replace the internal
market, will get GPs, community nurses, social services and others working
more closely together to identify health priorities - and choose how to
spend the money.
One of Jericho's Doctors Dr. Andy Chivers, who is also chair of the Oxford City Primary Care Group Board, says: "We're in the enviable position of already having high-quality services, so it's more a question of improving something reasonably good". He points out that the services that the fund-holding services purchased most enthusiastically were counselling and physiotherapy. "If these are good services they should be available to everyone".
Where they would take place is another matter. The Jericho Health Centre is pretty full. Currently it is the base for nine doctors, three practice nurses, five district nurses, and two health visitors. But the building is showing its age. It was constructed in 1971, for what now seems like a bargain price of £50,220, as part of the renewal of Jericho, replacing some old homes and shops. Also in the development were the council flats above, some garages and a shop in Cranham Street. Though there are only around 2,500 people in Jericho, the centre currently serves 12,000. Many people settling in Oxford start out in the city centre then move to the leafier suburbs but keep their doctor.
Now there is severe pressure on space - despite splitting a practice a few years back and transferring some Jericho people with their doctor to the North Oxford Health Centre. The building's layout doesn't allow for what nowadays would be thought essentials - such as rooms for breast-feeding or baby-changing. And having been designed around one system of patient record-keeping it had to switch to a different bulkier one that leaves the receptionists working in cramped conditions. Over time the centre has expanded to include the shop premises, and nurses now work from what was the caretaker's flat.
A less positive health development for Jericho will be the closure of the Radcliffe Infirmary. By around 2003 some services will start to move to the John Radcliffe and Churchill sites, which means we will no longer have such convenient access to physiotherapy or X-ray services. Though nothing has yet been decided, it is likely that the University, which already owns part of the site, will use it for another college.
Fortunately one of our other local health facilities is staying put - the Podiatry Clinic in Albert Street. Podiatry is another name for chiropody. This offers NHS footcare for the west of the city but it is particularly convenient for Jericho's older population.
This site in Albert Street was once occupied by, among other things, the St. Barnabas Slipper Baths. Since demand for public baths had fallen, this was closed in 1971 making way for a new building that housed a number of activities including a child health clinic and chiropody. From 1994 it also became the podiatry headquarters for Oxfordshire. As well as offering consultations this is also where they manufacture many kinds of foot support.
This is an 'open access' clinic and around 70% of people contact the clinic directly. If you have foot problems you can call 311312 to get instant advice or to make an appointment - the waiting list for non-urgent care on the NHS is currently around eight weeks. You can also get a quicker consultation if you pay (£15 for the clinic, £30 for a home visit). However if you just have difficulty cutting your toenails you will have to look elsewhere. Either go to a private chiropodist, or ask someone else - how well do you get on with your neighbours?