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GP practices face ‘unsustainable’ workload without extra funds from housing developers

General practice in parts of Essex could become ‘unsustainable’ following the development of hundreds flats, a CCG has warned.

In a letter to Colchester Borough Council, seen by Pulse, NHS North East Essex CCG said £53,000 was needed to mitigate the impact of the construction of 340 student flats in the area.

The proposed new flats on Queen Street in Colchester will affect six GP practices, which the CCG has said ‘do not have capacity’ to accommodate the new residents.

According to the letter from the CCG’s estates project manager Elizabeth Dunn, four of the practices are already operating over capacity – in need of 1,534 square meters of space.

Ms Dunn wrote: ‘The development would have an impact on primary healthcare provision in the area and its implications, if unmitigated, would be unsustainable.’

She added that the new flats will mean the practices will require ‘refurbishment, reconfiguration, extension, or potential relocation’.

She said: ‘A developer contribution will be required to mitigate the impacts of this proposal.

‘NHS North East Essex CCG calculates the level of contribution required, in this instance to be £53,600.’

Ms Dunn added that the CCG would not raise an objection to the development if the money was provided ‘before the development commences’.

Essex LMC chief executive Dr Brian Balmer told Pulse that local general practice is seeing that ‘the population is rising much faster than the population of GPs which continues to fall so I think anybody can work out how tricky it’s going to get.’

He added: ‘We are seeing in many places over the county the population is growing quite rapidly and in some of them the local authority and certain developers have not really taken into account the increased pressure on medical services.’

A Colchester Borough Council spokesperson said: ‘The NHS has requested a financial contribution to deliver healthcare services for students resident on site, which has been supported by the developer and will form part of the report to be considered by the council’s planning committee in due course.’

It comes after a Pulse investigation found that a number of local authorities were failing to give GP surgeries a share of the infrastructure funding they receive from housing developers.