CALLS have been made for an urgent expansion of GP services in Malton and Norton.

Patient numbers had grown at Derwent Surgery to 20,431 at the start of the year with staff said to be struggling to find clinical rooms for them to see patients.

Norton county councillor Keane Duncan said extra demand on services means the Norton-based practice needs to expand “sooner rather than later”.

Cllr Duncan said he had met with senior partner Dr David Longworth and finance manager Lorraine Akers earlier this month in a bid to find a way forward.

“Patient numbers are up, and with more homes planned this growth will only continue,” he said.

“We are very lucky to have an effective local practice with top GPs here in Malton and Norton, but space is rapidly running short, and in order for the practice to cope we urgently need a plan in place to expand space.

“Whatever the solution, it is going to require all authorities working together into the future to ensure we are ready.”

Dr Longworth said per-patient funding means doctor and nurse numbers have increased to meet demand over recent years, but staff are now carefully juggling consulting space.

“It’s a big building but we are struggling to find clinical rooms for them to see patients.

“This has been particularly noticeable in the past few months,” he said.

“There is a timetable for every room. That means we are already at the limit. We have found a way to juggle things around for now, but clearly extra population will push things.”

Dr Longworth said he thought a second surgery would be uneconomical and the existing surgery building, opened 30 years ago and serving a 100 square mile area, could be expanded to meet the demand.

Options to add extra rooms have already been drafted, but any building work is likely to come with a six-figure price tag.

Cllr Duncan said: “The issue is, as with everything, cash. Going forward, I think it is vital that contributions are sought from housing developers and that these are earmarked exclusively for improvements to GP services.

“We urgently need to start that conversation, before it is too late and money is missed out on.”

Cllr Duncan said he was liaising directly with the CCG to see what options might be available.

“I will then turn to Ryedale District Council in hope it can strike an agreement ahead of any major construction work,” he said.

“Where there is a will there is a way, and I am confident that a solution can be found to ensure our surgery is future-proof and effective.”