Concerns have been raised over healthcare provision in Leyburn after the NHS revealed its facilities were operating “above optimum capacity” and could not cope with extra patients from new housing.
NHS North Yorkshire clinical commissioning group has issued the warning in response to a proposal by Yorvik Homes to build 103 two, three and four-bedroom houses and 24 bungalows off Moor Road, Leyburn, which would be the largest housing development in the market town for many years.
When the proposal was unveiled last year, some residents highlighted concerns over the pressure the projected additional 311 residents would place on key services which they said were clearly already under pressure from demand.
Leyburn district and county councillor Karin Sedgwick said at the time Leyburn Medical Practice had advised her it could absorb the additional patients from the proposed housing estate without an issue, but no more.
Cllr Sedgwick said she was told the NHS had already accounted for the increase in housing at the Moor Road site as it had been projected in the district council’s Local Plan.
She said: “The same applies to the schools.
“Everybody thinks Leyburn’s primary school is full to bursting. It’s full to bursting because people from the villages don’t send their children to village schools which have got very low numbers.”
However, an email sent by a senior NHS North Yorkshire clinical commissioning group officer in July, which was published last week on the district council’s planning website, states it had identified “a need for improvements to healthcare infrastructure in Leyburn”, which would be exacerbated by an increase of over 300 patients from the proposed estate.
It stated the impact of the proposed development would be “very significant”.
The email stated: “The existing health infrastructure in Leyburn already operates above optimum capacity and has very limited capacity to absorb additional pressures.
“The existing health infrastructure cannot absorb the further pressure on delivery of services arising from the housing development.”
The email also stated community services, including NHS dentistry, podiatry and physiotherapy are located in the health wing of a closed care home which was becoming derelict.
It added: “This is not a satisfactory situation and the proposed approach is to extend Leyburn Medical Practice enabling primary, community and dental care services to be provided on one site .”
The NHS said it would need to buy land next to the practice, and if Richmondshire District Council was successful in securing a £53,000 contribution from the developer, it would help land the Government funding needed to redevelop the medical centre.
Campaigners battling against the housing proposal said the NHS email proved their concerns for key services were well founded.
One resident, whose name is withheld, said: “It is clear from the NHS report that there are serious concerns about health provision – it is not just residents crying wolf.
“The local medical practice is well-run, responsive, efficient and friendly, but it is clearly under strain and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future as the pandemic creates additional pressures.”