The senior doctor of a Daventry village medical centre has insisted that plans for an upgrade to the facilities are much-need and should be approved by the district council's planning committee.
Byfield Medical Practice hopes to develop the 10.5-acre site, adjacent to the existing out-of-date medical centre off Church Street, which would see 90 homes built and transform the existing surgery.
The proposed centre would offer further employment and provide both existing and new patients with up-to-date medical facilities.
“The issue is that this place was built in 1982 for 4,500 patients and now there are 8,000," said senior partner Doctor Alan Bone, who recently handed in his notice at the centre.
“We just can’t do what we want to for our patients here because of the lack of room."
He added: "The problem for general practices is there are not enough GPs and they can pick and choose to do what they want, when they want.
“They’re not interested in working here. They take one look at this place and they say ‘no thanks’.”
The centre has become so overcrowded that each GP has between 1,500 and 1,800 patients each, and Dr Bone warned this could rise as a result of the new housing developments in nearby Woodford Halse.
“We need a bigger medical centre because the Government wants to build ‘super practices’ in towns and cities, but that means everyone here would have to travel to be seen," said Dr Bone, who says the proposal have the support of MPs Chris Heaton-Harris (Con, Daventry) and Andrea Leadsom (Con, South Northamptonshire).
Another problem for the project was a lack of funding from the NHS, who were unable to lend a financial hand despite the need for a better, more modern facility capable of handling the demand.
Instead, an agreement with a local landowner had to be sought. This hinges, however, on planning permission being granted for the construction of 90 homes alongside the new up-to-date medical centre.
If planning permission is not granted, the landowner will not gift his property for the development.
This could ultimately result in the permanent closure of the existing out-of-date centre, forcing its 8,000 patients to go to Banbury and/or Daventry for treatment.
When asked what he would do should the centre ultimately close down, chairman of the Byfield Medical Centre patient participation group John Grindlay said: “I asked myself and my family what we would do. I’ve been a patient at Byfield Medical Centre for 51 years.
"My wife is in a wheelchair so has difficulty getting around. The bus services are under threat and I suppose we would have to go to Banbury or Daventry, both nine miles away.”
With the threat of cuts to county council funding looming, bus services may be terminated, and patients are already reliant on on-demand services, which makes getting to surgeries difficult enough as it is.
At a Byfield Parish Council meeting on October 24, councillors opted to object to the application on several grounds including a serious concern over flooding, traffic impact on Church Street and Fiveways junction, Local Planning Authority having more than its required five-year holding of developable land in rural areas and the site's location outside the accepted village confines, among others.
Council chairman Cllr John Gillic said he understood the desire for a larger medical centre but the cost to the village as a whole to provide this did not justify supporting the proposed application as it stood.
He suggested that one possibility for ensuring the site of any new medical centre, if the application were to be approved by Daventry District Council, would be for the land for a centre to be passed to the Parish Council, and ownership of the land, therefore, remaining in public hands.
Cllr John Gillic reminded council that a very recent housing needs survey for the village by Daventry District Council showed a need for affordable homes.