Stowmarket should get extra health centre as new housing puts pressure on services, Green councillors say as they call for urgent meeting with NHS officials
Calls have been made for Stowmarket to get a third health centre, as housing growth around the town and surrounding villages piles extra pressure on existing health services.
Green councillors in Mid Suffolk have made a request for an urgent meeting with NHS England and the clinical commissioning group to discuss health provision.
It comes as plans for 265 homes on land at Diaper Farm have been lodged, with county councillor Keith Welham (Stowmarket North and Stowupland) and district councillor John Matthissen (Onehouse) suggesting that land be provided in that application for a third health centre.
Mr Welham said: "We all know that the town's population has grown, as has that of many surrounding villages who also depend upon the existing two health centres.
"The recent closure of the GP practice in Claydon is putting additional pressure on Needham Market surgery, which already serves the villages that surround it as well as the town itself, and this will inevitably have a knock-on effect on Stowmarket too."
He said the north of the town was the ideal location, as many new residents live in the Cedars Park and Stowupland areas north of the rail line.
Mr Matthissen said plans for a Cedars Park health centre never materialised, and added: "The need for a third health centre has become increasingly evident.
"Increasingly, online community discussion groups include expressions of concern regarding access to GP and dental services."
Representatives from both Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, and NHS England which covers dental care, have said they are willing to meet with councillors to discuss the demand issue.
“We continue to support the primary care staff in and around Stowmarket who are doing an excellent job for local people’s health and wellbeing," a CCG spokesman said.
“Any discussions on future primary care provision in the town is welcomed.”
An NHS England spokesman for the East of England, added: "We are committed to ensuring everyone can access high quality dental care, and we are working closely with dental providers in Suffolk to improve access to services.
"Anyone who needs urgent or emergency dental care should use the NHS 111 service for advice on where to go."
A series of significant applications mean more homes are to be built around the town. Those include approval for 141 homes off Gun Cotton Way in March; 146 homes off Union Road between Stowmarket and Onehouse approved in the spring - adjacent to 300 already being built; and the phased development of Chilton Leys which could eventually see 600 homes to the north of Stowmarket.
A Mid Suffolk Council spokeswoman said: “While our council recognises that healthcare provision is a matter for the NHS and local clinical commissioning groups, we want to help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place for all our communities to enjoy bright and healthy futures. This includes securing potential funding for future provision from developers as part of our local planning process.
“In the meantime we remain committed to working with our NHS colleagues to look at GP and health and wellbeing requirements locally and find the best long term solution for our growing communities.”