South Southwark patients “cut off” from the Tessa Jowell Health Centre

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People who relied on the Dulwich Community Officer say they’ve been shunned away since it became the Tessa Jowell Centre

South Southwark residents fear the Tessa Jowell Centre has created a “two-tier system” that cuts off their access to vital healthcare services.

At a council meeting, West Dulwich resident David Dean was told that only patients registered with GP surgeries in Southwark could use the state-of-the-art facility.

But the extreme south of the borough has few surgeries, often making it more convenient for people like David to register in Lambeth.

David who used the Dulwich Community Hospital for blood tests before it became the Tessa Jowell centre in May 2020 said: “I used to be able to get up at seven o’clock and jog down to the old place and get seen straight away.

“Now I can’t so I have to go to King’s which is a much longer journey. It’s crazy – we pay Southwark Council tax!”

David asked a doctor at a council meeting on Tuesday, September 20, whether he could use the centre, and says he received “a flat no”.

From Gypsy Hill and West Dulwich, the nearest surgery in Southwark is The Lordship Lane Surgery – roughly three miles away.

Francis Bernstein, a Gypsy Hill resident registered with a Lambeth GP, said: “The problem is we don’t have a choice. We’re completely out of catchment for all these Dulwich GPs in the very south of the borough.

“There’s a little bubble around Dulwich. But what about other people who live in the south of Southwark?”

With sprawling housing projects, being built at places like Crystal Palace Park, Francis fears that his area’s rising population could exacerbate the problem.

“Today is not a crisis but if we’re not planning local healthcare for the new people they will bring, then we will have a crisis,” he said.

The New Southwark Plan recognised the need to “support improvements to…GP provision” as part of the Crystal Palace and Gypsy Hill area vision’.

The director of integrated care and commissioning at the South East London Integrated Care Board has agreed to set up a meeting with Francis to clarify which services are available.

The Tessa Jowell Centre was named after the late Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, who long-campaigned for an integrated health facility for her constituents.

Its services include blood tests, a diabetes clinic, health visiting, speech and language therapy and more.

The News contacted the NHS South East London for comment.

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