‘Catch 22’ over Leeds GP surgery expansion bid

Money needs to be used wisely  in the NHS says a correspondent. See letter
Money needs to be used wisely in the NHS says a correspondent. See letter
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Planning chiefs have rejected a bid by a Leeds GP surgery to expand - but they admit it’s a “Catch 22 situation” in the wake of increasing demand.

Lofthouse Surgery in Lofthouse has more than 10,500 patients on its books, gaining a tenth more in the last two years alone.

However a Leeds City Council planning panel has thrown out an application for two single storey extensions to the front and first floor of the existing surgery building in Church Farm Close, citing a shortage of parking facilities on the site and fears that expanding the surgery would lead to residential streets being clogged up by visiting patients.

Dr Ben Browning, who represented Lofthouse Surgery at a meeting at Leeds Civic Hall, said there was “desperate need for additional space to deal with patients we already have”, stressing the aim was not to attract more patients.

He told the decision-making South and West Plans Panel that the number of patients on the surgery’s lists had grown partly due to new housing developments in the area.

“We area dealing with families coming in to the area. We are welcoming them and want to look after them, but we need space to do that.

“We are not looking to attract more patients, so we are not looking to increase traffic into the area, we are looking to deal with the patients we already have.”

He said attempts would be made to reduce the need for parking by conducting prescription renewals electronically and adjusting working patterns and surgery times.

The application split the panel, who rejected it by just two votes and advised the applicant to submit an amended bid.

Coun Mick Coulson, who voted in favour of the expansion, said: “I think this is a bit of a Catch 22 situation.

“We are doing the planning for the area and we are building houses.

“We are supposed to make sure these are sustainable. We have not done a very good job here by the sound of it.

“If we turn down every planning application because of a bit of upset about a few cars parking, then we will never plan anything.”