A NEW care home proposed between Chawton and Alton – combined with the recent closure of Bentley Surgery – risks sending Alton’s remaining GPs, nurses and social care staff past breaking point.

Plans for a new 67-bed “purpose built” care home and 28 “100 per cent affordable” sheltered apartments on land north of Winchester Road were submitted to East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) by developer Highwood Homes Ltd in April.

But clinical staff and the Patients’ Participation Group at Chawton Park Surgery have strongly objected to the application, saying Alton’s two main surgeries had already had to take on an additional 2,500 patients after the permanent closure of Bentley Surgery on April 1.

They have raised concerns with Alton Town Council and EHDC planners over the proposal, and chair of the patients’ group Ian Saunders, writing in a formal objection to the proposal, stated: “For a number of years now, Alton has been the subject of a continuing and rapid expansion in terms of housing alongside a rising population.

“This expansion has not been matched by a proportional increase in primary healthcare resources, namely access to GPs .

“This situation is also exacerbated by a national shortage of healthcare professionals, ranging from GPs, nurses and HCAs, to carers, social  workers and a whole range of other support staff.

“Further plans by the government to introduce enhanced access plans supporting increased patient access, while desperately needed, is not being matched by a successful NHS recruitment campaign.”

With the closure of Bentley Surgery last month, Mr Saunders added the two main practices in Alton have had to take on an additional 2,500 patients, “placing huge pressures on an already- stretched healthcare system”.

Mr Saunders continued: “Responsibility for the health, welfare and care of  those folk living in care homes is of course a mixed responsibility and one which should not be overlooked.

“Until developers are forced to pay far more attention to problems relating to social infrastructure and are challenged more on the underlying consequences of their planning proposals, we will have to expect the inevitable decline in quality healthcare provision.”

View and comment on the application online here.