Hucknall 'health crisis' laid bare by lack of GPs and thousands of patients per doctor in town

The health crisis threatening to engulf Hucknall has been made even starker by new figures from NHS Digital.

Thursday, 7th April 2022, 1:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 1:05 pm

The figures, gained from NHS Digital, show GP numbers by Hucknall surgery and show that each has thousands of patients to cater for.

Residents have been complaining for months that it is becoming increasingly harder to get an appointment – or even get in touch with their practice with not enough GPs to cope with demand.

And there are huge fears that this will only become more difficult amid plans and proposals to build thousands more houses in and around the town.

Whyburn Medical Centre has more than 4,000 patients assigned to each GP. Photo: Google

One Hucknall resident said: “The situation is absolutely dire. I don’t blame the GPs, they can only do so much.

"But the town is on the verge of falling off a cliff edge and people’s health will suffer.”

The biggest bottleneck is at Whyburn Medical Centre on Curtis Street where there are currently 12,543 patients registered, all being seen by just 2.9 GPs – meaning each has 4,276 patients.

At Oakenhall Medical Practice on Bolsover Street there are 7,138 patients being seen by 2.6 GPs, who have 2,709 patients each.

At Om Surgery, on Watnall Road, 2,156 patients are seen by 1.1, GPs at an average of 2,021 patients per doctor.

Torkard Hill Medical Centre, on Farleys Lane, has the highest number of registered patients in the town at 15,831, but also the highest number of GPs at 13.1, meaning each has 1,206 patients.

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There is a multi-million plan to create a new health hub on the Piggins Croft car park in the town. But this is plagued with controversy due to the location and funding.

Cash from developers, as part of section 106 agreements, is likely to be included in plans for new housing, such as the almost 5,000 pinpointed as part of the currently paused Ashfield draft local plan, including 3,000 for green belt at Whyburn Farm.

However, it will be years before this has any impact - offset by thousands more residents – and the town is at breaking point now.

For example, the new 800-home village signed off at Top Wighay Farm is classed as being in Gedling, but new residents will want to use Hucknall services, including doctors’ surgeries.

Coun Lauren Mitchell (Lab), who represents Hucknall South on Ashfield Council, said: “These numbers are really concerning. Our doctors in Hucknall are doing a great job under an enormous amount of pressure with rising demand.

"The difficulty is, we desperately need more GPs to be recruited, and just building another practice isn’t going to magically improve this situation we are in

"Ashfield District Council needs to take a look at these numbers and wake up.

"The town can’t take thousands of new houses, we just don’t have the infrastructure.”

Coun John Wilmott (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall North on both Ashfield District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Hucknall residents are living in a health crisis and this is something we are determined to help alleviate.

“I have raised Hucknall’s health crisis – and called for action from Nottinghamshire’s director of public health – in numerous meetings of the county council’s health scrutiny committee.

"Only last week, I raised it again at a key meeting with Nottingham University Hospital’s NHS Trust.

“Talks for a brand new super health centre in Hucknall are at an advanced stage.

"These have been taking place since 2019 and the council has already committed £1million to the project to end Hucknall’s health crisis.

"I’m calling for the Government to stop dragging its feet and finally commit funding.”

But Hucknall MP Mark Spencer (Con) said that ‘destructive’ housing plans from Ashfield District Council and Gedling Borough Council were the biggest cause for concern, putting more pressure on an already creaking system.

He said: "I am extremely concerned about additional pressure that will be put on GP services by the Ashfield Independents' (housing) plans for Hucknall's green belt.

"Hucknall's GPs are incredibly hard working, and I know that they will continue to work hard for our residents.

"I know that the Government and the clinical commissioning group (CCG) are aware of my concerns about GP surgeries in Hucknall over the next five to ten years.

"The Ashfield Independents – and the Labour Party in Gedling – have to recognise how destructive their house-building plans will be.

"Hucknall cannot take the level of housing that they are suggesting.

“I am urging them both to withdraw their plans for green belt development in Hucknall, including Whyburn Farm.”

He went on: “Only last year, the Ashfield Independents put the funding for a new Cavell Centre at risk by claiming it was a done deal.

“This has taken an enormous amount of work to correct this. Thankfully, I have been working with ministers to get this back on track.”

But Coun Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who also represents Hucknall North on the district council and Hucknall South at county level, put the blame at the government’s door.

He said: “Hucknall’s health crisis is one of the main reasons that all five Ashfield Independent councillors in Hucknall gave in opposing the Government’s enforced housing plan.

“These figures, however, are the tip of the iceberg as Hucknall’s infrastructure is struggling to cope now.

"In 2019, at the last General Election, the Conservatives promised thousands of extra GPs and staff in our doctors’ surgeries.

“The reality is that the number of GPs has gone down and our town is suffering because of yet more Tory broken promises.”

Coun Chris Baron (Con), who represents Hucknall West on the district council, also said the Independents needed to shoulder the blame.

He said: “Everyone in Hucknall is aware of the issues not only in getting an appointment but the workload of the GPs and staff.

”The Ashfield Independents have promised all sorts of things regarding a ‘super centre’ with the final statement that allegedly it was all signed and sealed.

"The truth is that it is far from completion, there have been a few meetings with options available and the NHS is going away to consider them.

“Mark Spencer MP has met with health ministers and the council has nearly £1 million from developer contributions to help fund it.

"A vast majority of this coming from the development at the (former) Rolls-Royce site and discussions with the landowners earmarked a site for a GP’s surgery, which I believe is a great option for the west of the town.”

But political argument aside, it is patients who are facing the difficulties.

Joe Lunn, associate director of primary care at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG said: “We are doing everything we can to support our GP practices to deliver the best care for our residents, including investment in our workforce so we can direct patients to a health and care expert who best meets their need.

"This might include doctors, pharmacists, social prescribers, physiotherapists or nurses who are all part of our highly-skilled front-line primary care team and mean that patients are seen by the best person for their needs.

"It is important to remember that the NHS is here for you and so if you are concerned about a new lump or mole or have any other health issues that you are worried about then please get in touch with your GP."