Planning tax to tackle NHS shortage of GP surgery appointment slots with Tower Hamlets’ rocketing population
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Doctors’ surgeries are getting a £7.5 million from Tower Hamlets Council’s planning revenue to cope with the growing population of London’s East End.
Some surgeries are struggling to cope with rapid increases in lists of registered patients.
“The current GP facilities are struggling to accommodate the high demand,” Tower Hamlets lead cabinet member for health Denise Jones said.
“Expanding surgery services is exactly what people have been crying out for. Access to good health care is what everyone should have a right to.”
The biggest cash boost is £3,120,000 to expand Poplar’s Aberfeldy Village health centre in East India Dock Road, set to be completed in October, 2020.
The Wellington Way health centre in Bromley-by-Bow is getting £1,493,000 for its expansion by autumn 2019, while Bethnal Green’s Suttons Wharf health centre which replaces the current Globe Town surgery in Roman Road is getting £854,000.
NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group chief Simon Hall said: “Demand for GP services is rising with the East End population set to increase dramatically in the next few years. Investment in primary care is vital to meet this increasing demand and to make sure services are available where and when they’re needed.”
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The population is expected to rise to 315,000 by 2020—more than double London’s growth and four times the rest of the country, with Tower Hamlets now the fastest-growing local authority area in the UK.
This puts pressures on the infrastructure including essential services like public health, Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs points out.
The mayor said: “This is major investment in healthcare needs to improve access and premises. The growing population can create pressure on infrastructure like healthcare.”
The cash hand-out is aimed at relieving the over-stretched GP services such as the 43,200 new patient appointment slots at Wellington Way, the 86,000 in Aberfeldy Village and 36,000 at Suttons Wharf.
The funds come largely from payments charged to developers rather than direct council tax. They are the so-called Section 106 charges under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act, which pays for extra services needed with additional housing.