Doctors appointments to be held in portable cabin

A GP clinic in Whittle-le-Woods has come up with a solution to keep pace with increasing patient numbers
A GP clinic in Whittle-le-Woods has come up with a solution to keep pace with increasing patient numbers

Patients in Whittle-le-Woods will now have some of their doctors appointments in a temporary building.

For partners at Whittle Surgery the Portakabin building is a practical way of keeping pace with soaring patient numbers, which have increased by over half in the last 16 years, while they hunt for a new premises.

They say that the 58 per cent rise is down to housing developments and they need more space to accommodate newcomers.

A spokesman from the general practice said: “We are pleased that we have been given permission to install a temporary building for a period of 12 months to enable us to provide more appointments for our growing list size.

“This temporary building will provide an additional two consultations rooms which will be used daily to provide additional GP, advanced nurse practitioner and practice nurse appointments.

“We are in a position at present where the number of patients on our list is growing at a rapid rate due to the volume of house building in the local area. We need to take on additional clinical staff to provide enough appointments for the growing list but have no more capacity within the current building.

“We are moving forward with the development of a new site for our new surgery but this will take two to three years. We believe the only solution in the interim is to hire a temporary building to provide additional space.

“As part of our contract with Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group we have to provide 70 appointments with a prescribing clinician per week per 1,000 patients.

“We expect our list size to grow by at least 1,000 patients over the next three years and will therefore have to provide an additional 70 appointments per week.”

The temporary cabin has planning permission be housed in the clinic car park in Preston Road for a year with an opportunity for an extension.

The move reflects the national picture of the GP crisis. Figures revealed by Pulse magazine late last week showed that record numbers of GP practices closed last year, forcing around 265,000 patients to move.

A Freedom of Information request revealed 57 practices closed in 2016, with a further 34 shutting because of practice mergers.

The Royal College of GPs said that doctors were unable to cope with ever-growing patient demand without the necessary funding and workforce to deal with it.

Whittle Surgery had initially applied for permission to house the Portakabin in the car park for three years but Lancashire County Council’s highways agency was not keen, citing parking issues.

Planning officers at Chorley Council had recommended to councillors at a development control meeting that the application for the cabin was refused on the grounds that car parking space would be lost and the cumulative effect this would have on the highway network.

Coun Eric Bell, who represents Clayton-le-Woods and Whittle-le-Woods, said: “Its badly needed. They keep building houses and don’t support amenities, its so frustrating.”

Weighing in Chorley’s MP Lindsay Hoyle said it was good that the surgery was given the go ahead for the Portakabin.

“It was important to get the Portakabin, the existing service has not got the capacity within the building,” he said.

“It is a stop gap for Whittle Surgery which is looking at different sites around Whittle that may be suitable. We need to see how we can help the surgery for the future.

“It depends where a surgery is but if you increase the number of houses that puts pressure on local surgeries.

“If you build houses you have got to put in the infrastructure to support it.”

Outlining the surgery’s workload a planning document stated: “Whittle Surgery has experienced an upsurge in patient numbers over the last 16 years from approximately 6,000 patients in 2,000 to approximately 9,500 patients at the end of 2016. This is despite having to closing the list for months at a time during this period as the surgery was unable to cope with demand.”

The document also stated that the increase in patient numbers was down to the rise in residential development and partly due to Whittle being a popular commuter location as it is close to Chorley and Preston and between the M6 and M61.