A passionate case for Melton to have a second GP surgery has been put forward by borough councillors and residents a week after we reported that managers at the town’s sole existing practice were confident it could cope with the large anticipated population growth over the next two decades.
Latham House Medical Practice told us in last week’s Melton Times that its size as one of the UK’s largest doctors’ surgeries and the diverse range of medical professionals it employs means it is ideally placed to treat the extra patients expected from around 4,000 new homes being built up to 2036.
The practice, which is actively seeking to recruit more doctors, said there was also scope for expansion at its Sage Cross Street site in the town and its village branch at Asfordby, if required.
But dozens of readers contacted us via social media to question whether Latham House would be able to cope on its own because they said there were already lengthy waiting times to see a doctor, they didn’t always see the same GP and car parking was very difficult for the 36,000 patients who already use the practice.
Melton Borough Council’s ruling Conservative group campaigned in the recent local elections with a pledge to push for a second GP surgery in the town and they reiterated that viewpoint again this week.
Council leader Joe Orson told the Melton Times: “We have these 4,000 new homes being built and Melton is facing a 40 per cent increase in population over the next 20 years which is a very big increase.
“More healthcare services are clearly going to be needed and it would make sense for a second surgery to be provided.”
Councillor Orson said residents overwhelmingly supported the need for another practice in the town when Tory candidates were canvassing ahead of May’s polls.
“Knocking on peoples’ doors is a wonderful way of carrying out a consultation and the idea of a second GP practice was very popular,” he said.
“People were telling us that Latham House was too big, that it has a monopoly on health services in the town and they wanted a more personal service.
“They said they were not always getting their doctor of choice and that waiting times for appointments were too long.
“Most residents agreed with what we had in our leaflets and the fact that we had 14 out of 15 councillors elected for the town wards shows that they supported what we were calling for.”
East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG (ELR CCG), which commissions healthcare services in the area, is currently assessing future requirements for GP cover for the town.
Councillor Orson, who said he and colleagues had met managers at Latham House last month to discuss the situation, added: “If the CCG do opt for a second GP surgery there is a possibility that Latham House might be asked to run it on another site or the CCG could decide to bring in new doctors for it.
“The Conservative group on the council will continue to campaign for a second surgery and we are expecting a decision from the CCG in the next few months although we don’t know how quickly after that we would get the new surgery if they decide to go for it.”
Kate Hunter, executive manager at Latham House, which has 13 partners and employs 18 GPs and a total of around 135 staff, told us last week: “We are one of the largest practices in the country.
“One of the big advantages we have is a really diverse workforce.
“They (the CCG) are looking at different options for GP practices and healthcare and we hope that we will be part of the solution in the long term.”
A spokesperson for East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG told the Melton Times this week: “As part of the planned growth in Melton, ELR CCG is currently exploring all sustainable solutions to meet the proposed future needs of patients in Melton and the surrounding areas.
“We will continue to work closely with local partners throughout this process to future proof our services.”
Some readers’ views on GP services at Melton’s Latham House:
Alison Kathryn Barker: “The surgery is bursting at the seams right now. The doctors are absolutely fantastic down there when you get to see them, but we do need more doctors so that the waiting time for appointments to see your own GP are not so long. I feel for them but they either need to expand or Melton needs a second practice.”
Chris Platts: “To expect that they can cope with demand now needs a rethink and to expect they can cope with the same practice in 20 years, come on?”
Gary Preston: “I’m sure that they do their best but, a minimum four-week wait is completely unacceptable so, yes we definitely need an additional medical practice or a massive expansion of the existing one.”
Ginger Wright: “Why don’t they move the surgery to the old hospital on Thorpe Road, plenty of room for doctors and parking.”
Janet Manning: “We need another surgery in town. Latham House is far too small. Car parking is also a joke! Not everyone is able to walk from Morrisons. They shouldn’t have to.”
Hannah Barnes: “Doctors appointments are a 2-3 week wait and you’re lucky if you see your doctor! Plus it’s like a conveyer belt, get you in and get you out sharpish without any real care!”
Tracy Griffiths: “The shortage of doctors at Latham house is not a Melton issue, we have a critical lack of medical professionals nationwide! Latham house and the NHS as a whole do the very best they can with limited resources.”