Can better housing policy help the health service?

November 8, 2018 11:21 PM
By Merilyn Canet

Merilyn version 2

Our GP Medical Services are under increasing pressure now. GPs have organised to manage resources better but have difficulty recruiting suitably skilled people.

It is hard to replace retiring doctors with new young qualified people. Sevenoaks is a high cost housing area and salaries are similar across the UK for NHS GPs. We have shortages of skilled nurses and other key support workers for similar reasons.

Demand from all of us for better healthcare is rising as we expect more types of treatment, are living longer and are more isolated from our family and friends. Increased family mobility is part of the reason for greater dependence on medical services.

Government has asked Sevenoaks to increase the size of the population living in our District by over 25% - knowing that this will be an ageing population. To do this without planning the resources to provide necessary infrastructure, doctors, nurses and care workers, is irresponsible

The right kind of housing should be part of the solution. Co-housing and group projects for older people can reduce their demands on GPs. We have excellent examples in mews homes , 'sanctuary closes' and Rockdale Housing Association.

But reasonable rented homes for essential and young professional workers, often training to complete qualifications are just as important.

Care workers help sick and older people to live better lives and stay in their homes. They need good quality housing too if we are to retain their services and reduce pressure on our local GP services.

Many volunteer groups and local Councils are working hard to fill growing gaps in provision that cannot be filled by the GP practices without external help. They will be needed more than ever as extra housing means more people, making demands on our already stretched local GP services.


Dr Merilyn Canet,