Dec 1 2011 by Alastair McNeill, Hamilton Advertiser
DOCTORS at a Hamilton surgery have sought to block plans for a new old folk’s home in the town.
GPs at Low Waters Medical Centre fear they will not be able to adequately cover the proposed 112-bed home without compromising care at existing OAP homes.
However, on Tuesday, South Lanarkshire’s planning committee approved the nursing home scheme earmarked for a site on Strathaven Road.
The four GPs at Low Waters Medical Centre said the plans would place an ‘intolerable strain on our already busy practice’.
However, officials told councillors on Tuesday that the potential impact of the scheme on the health centre’s operations – and the doctors’ view on ‘over-provision of care home facilities’ – were not material planning considerations.
The letter to planners from the practice, dated August this year, and signed by Dr J.M. Simpson, Dr A. Sullivan, Dr S. McElroy and Dr D. Simpson, stated: ‘As the closest health centre to this proposed care home, we are of the opinion that the additional burden of work that would be involved in caring for these residents would place an intolerable strain on our already busy practice.
‘We feel that our present patients including all of the residents of Wellhall Care Home (Hamilton) and Duchess Nina Nursing Home (Quarter) would be disadvantaged by us not being available.
“It is very likely that other local practices feel the same too.
“We also question the need for this care home in an area already well-served by Abercorn Nursing Home (Hamilton), Wellhall Care Home, Aberglen Home (Burnbank), Duchess Nina Nursing Home, Douglas View Nursing Home (Hamilton), Avonbridge Nursing Home (Hamilton) and Lornebank Nursing Home (Burnbank).
‘Some of these homes are not full to capacity. We are of the opinion that our area is already more than adequately served by nursing/care homes and feel another care home would be best situated in a less congested area.
‘Further, we have not been consulted on the above proposal and are aware that the health board have not been consulted on the proposal and feel that this is unacceptable.’
Three further letters of objection from nearby residents included concerns over privacy, loss of amenity, traffic noise and smells.
However, planning chief Colin McDowall told councillors the building’s design – and amendments made to the plans – would address privacy and amenity concerns.
He also pointed out that the authority’s roads and transportation department had not raised any objections to the plans. Issues in relation to traffic noise and smells, Mr McDowall added, “are more appropriately dealt with by environmental services.”
Mr McDowall said the plans were consistent with a variety of planning and land use policies.
He concluded: “The redevelopment of this site will not only improve the amenity of the area in general, but will also provide valuable services for the care and wellbeing of the elderly and have the potential to bring increased employment opportunities to the area.”
Following this week’s approval of the Eddlewood nursing home, Low Waters Medical Practice doctors said in a statement: “As the closest doctors’ surgery to the proposed new nursing home, we are worried that we will find ourselves, and our local district nursing colleagues, overstretched with the work of attending to the medical needs of so many new patients.
“These new patients will likely have serious medical conditions requiring frequent consultations. We worry that our present patients will be disadvantaged by this increase in our workload. This is likely to affect other surgeries too.
“We are very disappointed that there has been no consultation with local GPs or the health board about this. Hamilton is already well- served by nursing homes and we know of several empty beds in nursing homes currently.”
The statement concluded: “We ask what new provisions will be put in place to deal with this increased medical workload?”
An NHS Lanarkshire spokesman said: “As independent contractors, GP practices are entitled to lodge objections to planning applications in their own right. It is not a statutory requirement for local authorities to consult health boards with regards to planning applications and therefore we have not been asked for a view on the proposed development.”