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MP criticised for ‘lack of action’ over healthcare facilities shortage in city

PUBLISHED: 17:56 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:56 30 October 2020

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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A Norfolk MP has been criticised for a “lack of action over the past decade” after calling for more doctors and dentists to serve new homes built in her constituency.

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North, has written to the government to highlight the need for more health services as new developments are built in the city.

Ms Smith has written to Robert Jenrick, housing, communities and local government secretary to urge him to ensure healthcare facilities are built for new homes, as part of his planning reforms.

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She said: “In my constituency, a large number of new homes are planned - there is already pressure on GP and dentist practices.

“Young people find it hard to afford a home of their own, and there are thousands of people on waiting lists in Greater Norwich. I would like your assurance you will ensure the right healthcare provision for my constituents of today and tomorrow.”

In a post on her website, the MP said she was having “discussions” with Broadland District Council planners and leaders in Norfolk and Waveney’s health services.

Her announcement came after empty plates were left outside her party’s offices to protest her vote against extending free school meal vouchers into the holidays.

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Ms Smith added: “I’m doing this because people need to be able to get appointments at the doctor or the dentist, now and in the future.

“I want to think ahead about how this works with new homes. I believe in building more homes for people and in a strong NHS.”

However, Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group in Norfolk, criticised Ms Smith’s lack of action over the previous ten years.

He said: ‘The plan for housing growth in north Norwich was signed off almost ten years ago and the warning flags about lack of doctors and dentists to service new developments have been waving frantically ever since.

“Underfunding of councils and the NHS and a shortage of GPs and dentists has been glaringly obvious for the past decade and roundly ignored by Chloe Smith and her government.

“The need for a catch up is desperate but she should be apologising for her lack of action over the past decade rather than trying to claim credit for a campaign to correct her mistakes.’

Ms Smith said: “These are yesterday’s remarks from yesterday’s city council leader - who does not speak for greater Norwich - but I’m sure Steve could still have applied himself to responding to the important consultation on the planning changes that could make a difference. He can dwell in the past if he likes but I’m interested in today and the future.”

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