'At risk': Warnings over Whitchurch GP centre delay

The future of healthcare in Whitchurch is at risk if a new medical centre is not delivered on time, health chiefs have warned.

The Pauls Moss Scheme proposes joining two existing GP practises in a new, purpose-built centre in the town, while also offering combined housing and care services for over 55s.

However, the plans have come under fire from campaigners who object to knocking down the original house on the site which was built by Edward Philips Thompson in 1897.

But now Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has warned that the funding for the project will expire if the issue is not resolved.

In a letter to Shropshire Council’s planning department, head of primary care Steve Ellis said: “NHS England is supporting the project through the provision of a £1 million Estates and Technology Transformation Fund grant. It is important to note that this grant is time limited and is only available until March 2021.

“The building has to be completed by this date in order to draw down the grant funding and therefore will be lost if this project is not delivered on time.

“Without the delivery of this project, Whitchurch would face an uncertain future in terms of its primary care provision as the existing three GP premises have a limited lifespan, either through lack of availability or their ongoing suitability.”

Retirement age

The planning application, from Wrekin Housing Trust, comprises 74 residential units, a health centre, pharmacy, central hub space of cafe and community rooms and 85 car parking spaces.

The plans are being supported by Whitchurch Patients Group which says healthcare facilities and specialist housing are “much needed” in the town.

But hundreds of objection letters have been submitted to the authority’s planning department, which will have the final say.

Mr Ellis said a number of local GPs reaching retirement age was a “significant issue” and, without a fit-for-purpose centre, the town would struggle to attract new doctors.

He added: “The new medical centre in Whitchurch is not affordable without the grant funding and the land has been gifted by the Wrekin Housing Trust at no cost to the NHS.

“The delivery of this project is therefore critical to the sustainability of healthcare in Whitchurch and important to the long-term effects on physical and mental health wellbeing of its population.”

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