Population growth from new developments will put Leighton’s GP surgeries at breaking point, according to a patient participation group.
As things stand Bassett Road Surgery has more than 13,600 patients on its books, mirroring increasing demand across the town.
Agreed developments for 2,500 homes will add approximately 6,000 patients to Leighton’s already burdened GP surgeries, with the town needing four more GPs by the time new residents move in.
Despite developers pledging 0.16 hectares of land for a new four-GP practice, as of yet there are no clear plans on how this will be constructed.
The matter is of urgent concern for the town’s patient participation groups, which are calling for clarity on the issue.
It was also brought up at a meeting of the town council’s planning and transport committee on Wednesday.
Margaret Dews, secretary of the Bassett Road Patient Participation Group, told the LBO: “This seems to have been shunted from one person to another, we can’t find out who would be responsible for this new practice.
“It is all very well setting aside the land for it but that is all that has been said, how will it get built and how will it be populated?
“At the moment we have more 13,000 patients at Bassett Road and only six doctors, it is pretty shocking.”
Last month Central Beds Council planning officer Andrew Marsh wrote to the Bassett Road Patient Participation Group, informing them that the 0.16ha of land would be “transferred to the local authority to facilitate the delivery of the surgery provision”.
Whether the council would take a lead on the project remains unknown however.
Mrs Dews said: “Facilitate is a very vague term to use, we need answers that will benefit current residents and those that will move into the new homes.
“Otherwise overloaded surgeries will become more overloaded and waiting times will get out of control.”
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous added his concern at the lack of health infrastructure in the town.
He said: “For 50 years we have been trying to get medical sevices in the town and we have only been inching forward.
“GP capacity clearly needs to match the increase in local population, every time I’ve raised this issue I have been assured by the Department of Health that many will flow according to population increase.
“Exactly how we spend it needs to be looked at to ensure we get value for money.”
He added: “Another issue that greatly concerns me is that we are not getting young doctors to come into general practice in the town.”
A Central Beds Council spokesman said: “Central Bedfordshire Council takes into account the health and well-being of communities during the creation of any new housing developments.
“That not only means adequate healthcare services to meet residents’ needs, as will be the case here with space set aside for a new practice for four GPs, but also leisure and sports facilities. These are likely to include sports pitches with changing facilities and a hall for community use.
“This allows people to take part in physical activity, improving their physical well-being and reducing the demand on health services.
“There will be legal agreement controls around the development to ensure that these are brought forward as soon as appropriate.”
> What’s your experience with GP surgeries? Email firstname.lastname@example.org