Wakefield CCG health bosses urged to speed up expansion of GP practices mid fears of overwhelming patient numbers
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The district’s population is forecast to pass the 385,000 mark by 2030, which would be a jump of nearly 10 per cent from the current count.
The predicted rise, which is attributed to the numbers of new homes in the area, has led to fears that doctor’s surgeries will be unable to cope and patients will not get access to appointments and treatment.
A recruitment crisis within the NHS and specific struggles to hire GPs across the country is making the task harder too.
These include the expansion of Riverside Medical Centre in Castleford, which should be completed by the summer.
Meanwhile, 10 new clinical rooms and a minor procedure suite could be installed at Trinity Medical Centre in Wakefield.
The surgery has been left with some surplus space after a merger between two practices.
A new pharmacy will be built on the site too, to replace the current one, which is deemed far larger than is needed now.
But speaking at a CCG meeting this week, public representative Stephen Hardy said the overall process “really needs to speed up”.
Mr Hardy, who sits on a CCG committee as a lay member, said: “There’s been an explosion in recent times in housing, particularly around the central part of the district.
“GP practices are now struggling to cope with the numbers flooding in, especially with reduced numbers of staff in primary care.
“It seems every time we try to fix a strategy, new developments come along which make that strategy out of date.
“It’s taken 4.5 years just to decide a general way forward. That really needs to increase in pace now because people are moving into the area, and they’re not gong to be able access primary care if we don’t get a move on and we don’t allow practices to expand.”
Mr Hardy added that the process of expanding surgeries was complex and lengthy, with many of the proposals likely to need planning permission before becoming reality.
Other proposals include the possible expansion of Eastmoor Health Centre, to help accommodate new residents on the City Fields development.
The CCG said it was hoped that around 1,000 new patients could be taken on by the practice after expansion.
However, no planning application for that scheme has been submitted yet, with the surgery working through a list of three options with an architect.
The CCG’s estates advisor, David Johnston, said: “I do feel now that progress has been made in recent months.
“This strategy will help us in terms of determining where those capacity needs are.
“There are a number of schemes now in the pipeline.
“I’d like to think now we’re in a pretty strong position to move forward with the increased capacity that’s needed.”
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