Matlock GP alarmed by lack of health investment to support new housing

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A Matlock GP says there is growing concern about new housing developments being approved in the Derbyshire Dales without sufficient funds to meet healthcare demand.

Dr Peter Holden, of Imperial Road Surgery, says capital investment of up to £7million is required to accompany new housing, with healthcare services already under strain.

Dr Peter Holden, of Imperial Road surgery in Matlock, is a member of the British Medical Association's council of GPs.

Dr Peter Holden, of Imperial Road surgery in Matlock, is a member of the British Medical Association's council of GPs.

He said: “To date there has been no extra money for general practices as a result of these new developments. The money that extra residents will bring to practices will not cover a doctor’s salary, let alone ongoing support costs such as staff and premises.”

He added: “We are going to see queues for GPs get longer. Developers plonk housing anywhere and we’re left holding the pieces. This puts extra pressure on our staff who have to explain why we cannot provide appointments.

“We now have zero resilience in Matlock. Extra development will put even more stress on the healthcare system and create a lot of problems in the future.”

GPs have proposed building a new health centre housing Imperial Road and Lime Grove surgeries together — which would also require funding increases to run after the initial investment.

Derbyshire Dales District Council can exact developer contributions for services using its Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 agreements.

But critics of the council’s policies say the projected total available for the whole Local Plan area is £22m, noted in the document as insufficient for any health capital projects.

Around £12m of that is earmarked for the Ashbourne bypass and a further £6m for primary school provision in Ashbourne and Wirksworth.

A spokesman for the council said: “We are not directly responsible for providing health facilities but have an ongoing dialogue with clinical commissioning groups to address GP capacity issues.

“All major developments are subject to consultation, and CCGs’ comments are taken into account in determining the planning application.”

They added: “Agreements over developer contributions are guided by legislation, but local residents can be assured the Local Plan’s strategic sites will be make contributions if relevant criteria are met.

“Only last week, when approving 482 homes at Cawdor Quarry, the council secured more than £185,000 from the developer to enhance capacity with local GP practices.”

Dr Holden has spoken out at the request of the Wolds Action Group, which has fought a long-running campaign against developments in north Matlock.

A spokesman for the group said: “Dr Holden’s concerns echo the concerns of many local residents. Namely that Matlock is facing growing pressures on healthcare and the addition of hundreds of extra homes will only add to the burden.

“Without the guarantee of high levels of additional capital and revenue investment in infrastructure we are afraid that existing and new residents will pay the price in terms of longer and longer waits for GP appointments.”

They added: “Large scale capital funding equating to many millions of pounds will be needed in order to offset the results of large scale developments in the town.”