A GOVERNMENT minister has stepped into a growing row over a garden village’s health facilities, vowing to “get to the bottom of it”.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has told Fareham MP Suella Fernandes that he will look into the situation after plans for healthcare provision at the new 6,000-home Welborne development were thrown into doubt.

As previously reported by the Daily Echo, Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) recently wrote to Fareham Borough Council (FBC) saying there were “no plans” to build a new health centre at Welborne, near Fareham.

Ms Fernandes has called on the CCG to “step up” because otherwise “there will be considerable strain on local practices and primary care services in the surrounding area which will mean more pressure for NHS staff and longer waiting times for local patients”.

She raised the issue with the health secretary and in a response letter, Mr Hunt said: “We will make it a priority to get to the bottom of this.

“General practice in this country is the backbone of our NHS and we will ensure all your local residents, including those in the new Welborne development, can count on good access to local GP and primary care services.

“To support GPs in Fareham we must also ensure a step change in GP recruitment and retention, which is an urgent priority and one on which NHS England, along with the Government and GP leaders, has developed detailed plans to boost GP numbers.”

Mr Hunt said the government will be investing in general practice so that by 2020/21 funding will rise by £2.4 billion.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of FBC, said: “It’s welcoming to find that the Secretary of State is getting on board with this; it has left the CCG looking rather foolish.

“It is not really acceptable for 20,000 people to not have their own surgery. Current surgeries in Fareham and Wickham are already at breaking point.”

Prospective developers for Welborne, Buckland Development, insisted that the provision of land for a health facility had been made in the plans

However, health bosses have insisted there was no commitment or reason to provide any new healthcare facilities as there were already four GP surgeries nearby.

Andy Wood, chief finance officer for Fareham and Gosport CCG, said: “We are committed to ensuring that the new population in Welborne will have good access to multi-disciplinary primary care teams. We remain in dialogue with Fareham Borough Council and the GP practices to achieve this.”