‘Intolerable’ strain on health services

The Coleridge Medical Centre

The Coleridge Medical Centre - Credit: Archant

Fearful residents have questioned how Ottery’s medical services will cope with potential hospital bed closures and the growing population due to swell by hundreds of people.

The Coleridge Medical Centre is held in high regard by its patients, but many are concerned about how it will cope with the additional strain of nearly 500 new homes.

The centre currently serves the town and its rural surrounds, including West Hill, Tipton St John and Newton Poppleford – areas which are also earmarked for new housing developments.

An initial allocation of 300 new homes for Ottery was proposed in East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) draft Local Plan. However, nearer 500 dwellings are set to be built.

District and county councillor Claire Wright said: “Coleridge Medical Centre is excellent, but over the past couple of years must be really struggling with the extra housing.

“In 2012, Dr Tim Cox came to a Feniton Parish Council meeting where 120 houses were proposed, and said that doctors were hot desking.

“EDDC’s lack of a Local Plan is putting intolerable pressure on our services, while at the same time NHS budgets are flat-lining with no growth funding injection, like there used to be.”

Most Read

Residents this week spoke to the Herald of their concerns.

Rachel Chamberlain, of Millcroft, believes the problem will only get worse and the medical centre will be unable to cope.

“Maybe the MPs and councillors should be bringing developers to account for the devastating knock-on effect of ever-growing populations on our doctors, dentists, roads and schools,” she said.

“There are around 160 new houses going in opposite The King’s School and if those houses only have two residents per house - that’s 320 extra people requiring a GP in the area.”

Crystal Dyer said she would rather drive to the walk-in centre in Exeter than risk a lengthy wait.

“The medical centre staff are brilliant and I feel they get the blame for the lengthy period people are having to wait for appointments, which is unfair,” she added.

“They do not have enough doctors or hours in the day to see to all of the patients in our growing community.

“I feel that the developers and authorities should be working together, which they obviously are not. If more housing is to be built, they should look at the knock-on effect this will have on the community, not just the medical centre but also the schools.”

Denise Hopkinson added: “The surgery is doing several phone appointments now, I think it’s to alleviate physical appointments so I am sure they’re feeling the pressure themselves.”