Councillors in Westhoughton are calling for an inquiry into the health facilities in the area, which they state are ‘inadequate’.

Westhoughton town councillors said residents of the town were concerned about their ability to access GP and hospital appointments, the length of time it takes to get an appointment and getting a place with an NHS dentist.

They have also expressed concerns on the growing population in the area with not enough health facilities to cover the demand.

Cllr Wilkinson said: “People are calling for an inquiry into the health facilities for two reasons, one due to the inability of local residents being able to obtain an appointment at the doctors, we have three surgeries, and it takes so long to gain an appointment.

“And secondly, the case for Westhoughton there is a growing population due to new developments and the surgeries don’t appear to be keeping pace with that.

“We’re not only asking health authorities about their side of the situation, but we also want to raise this with planning in relation to public section 106 agreements which supposedly are around contributions to public health which we don’t see much of.

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“Residents are concerned, they get in contact with us frequently, especially when planning application requests come in and they ask how the new residents will get doctors’ appointments when they can’t already get doctors’ appointments themselves.

“We have hundreds of homes currently being built in Westhoughton and this will add a few thousand to the already growing population and there are only three surgeries for the whole of Westhoughton.

“The demand is there from the existing population and Westhoughton has seen it grow and grow but it hasn’t seen a growth in the number of GPs.”

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Manchester said: “GP practices across Bolton are carrying out more appointments than before the pandemic.

“The rise in appointments is testament to hardworking and dedicated staff, who are experiencing both significant and growing demand and declining GP numbers.

“Appointments are up overall and include face-to-face, virtual, online consultation and telephone appointments.


“People in Westhoughton can also benefit from additional roles in general practice to provide support and services to patients, making it easier to see a healthcare professional to access a wider range of help, whilst reducing pressure on GPs.

“We are not complacent though and absolutely recognise that rising demand means that some people struggle to book an appointment in a timely way.

“We strive to be open about where things are working well, and where they are not.

“We are absolutely committed to improving people’s access to general practice, regularly reviewing local needs to ensure access to high quality services that meet local demand, and welcome feedback from patients.

“The challenges we face locally are undeniably difficult with increasing demand, urgent and emergency care pressures, and rising costs.

“Greater Manchester was one of the areas hardest hit by Covid-19 and stepped down large volumes of elective care.

“Together, this resulted in a significant increase in the number of people now waiting.

“Staff across the NHS continue to work hard to maintain the delivery of planned hospital care and are doing all they can to get patients the care they need as quickly and safely as we can.

“We are also supporting people while they wait through advice and guidance on how to stay well and what to do if conditions worsen.”

In regard to the dentist concerns residents have, a spokesperson for NHS Greater Manchester said: “We are working with local dentists to support practices to take on more NHS patients.

“It’s important to note that patients are not registered with a dentist in the same way as they are with a GP.

“So, if you need a check-up or dental treatment, you can register with a practice outside your local community.

“To find a dental practice, go to

“If you know you will not be able to attend an appointment, then please give as much notice as possible to the dental surgery so they can cancel your appointment and offer your slot to another patient. 

"If someone who is not registered with an NHS dentist or has a dental emergency and their regular dentist is closed, they can call the Greater Manchester Urgent Dental Care Service on 0333 332 3800.” 

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “All applications are considered in accordance with national planning legislation, as well as our Local Plan and the Supplementary Planning Policy Document on Developer Contributions secured via a s106 agreement.

“In accordance with this policy document, the needs of the local community are taken into account in any s106 funding agreement.

“Depending on the specifics of the proposed development, this can include additional funding for health services.”

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Adult's Services, Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “It is unsurprising that after 13 years of the Government failing to fund the NHS adequately that we are experiencing pressures across the whole system.

“Warnings of challenges in workforce retention and recruitment have not been heeded and since Covid, the situation has seen more pressure as lengthy Waiting Lists need reducing.

“The new Locality Board is adopting a system approach with Population Health and needs of communities very much a priority.”


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