Doctors across Whitchurch have come together to plead residents to back plans for the new medical centre in Pauls Moss, as figures reveal the town tops poor health charts in north Shropshire.

The plans were submitted to Shropshire Council last month and while it has received support in general, there have been more than 1200 objections to the plans, focusing mainly on the demolition of Pauls Moss House.

But in a joint statement, GPs in Whitchurch – who have been central to the development of the plans and potential services – acknowledged the concerns of those who want to save the house but insist it is only way to improve health provision in the town.

"There is an active campaign asking people to object to the planning application and Shropshire Council has received around 150 objections to date," they said. "We would like to explain our position in this plan.

"As you will all be aware, general practice in Whitchurch has been through a tumultuous five years. We have reduced from nine GP partners to three local GP partners which is actually fewer doctors than Whitchurch had before the advent of the NHS.

"This is not good and the recently published disease prevalence figures demonstrate that Whitchurch has high prevalence levels, particular in asthma.

"We have been trying for several years to secure the future of healthcare in Whitchurch. With the closure of Richmond House surgery, medical care has been provided by two practices working from three buildings.

"It is clear to all of us that the requirements of modern medical care makes this unsustainable and uncertainty over future plans has contributed to the current difficulty in recruiting new doctors to the town.

"Over the years we have considered suitable sites both in and out of the town boundary. The Pauls Moss project involving Wrekin Housing Trust and Shropshire Council has many additional advantages, not least the provision of elderly housing in the local area.

"Dr Ruth Clayton has lived her life overlooking Pauls Moss and we fully explored the possibility of renovating the existing house and incorporating it within the scheme.

"Regrettably, despite our best efforts, it became clear that plans incorporating the old house meant too many adaptations to meet the criteria for a modern health centre.

"There is also a recruitment crisis in the NHS, and particularly in primary care. Recently qualified doctors are choosing to work in modern, purpose-built premises and we anticipate that the new health centre will attract new, talented doctors to work and live in the area, in order to meet the demands of an expanding and ageing population.

As doctors who have served the town over several decades and generations, we are deeply concerned that we may fail to secure a new health centre should this application be declined.

"We understand that many of you have different views on the building project but we would like you to consider the difficulties that will be posed without the project coming to completion in a timely manner."

The prevalence figures for seven different main conditions were released last week, and collated over the last two years, show that 9.3 per cent of registered patients in the town have asthma, which is also the highest across the country.

For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Whitchurch was again top with 2.9 per cent, 0.8 more than Ellesmere.

Around 1.6 per cent were diagnosed with dementia and for depression, Whitchurch ranked second behind Oswestry West with 12.6 per cent of patients diagnosed.

However, the last three categories of diabetes, obesity and high-blood pressure have given health officials cause for concern, as 9.4 per cent of those registered with a GP have diabetes – 1.6 per cent more than Shawbury & Weston.

More than fifth (21.1 per cent) of registered patients have high-blood pressure with Ellesmere next on 17.5 per cent and Wem well down on 15.8 per cent.

Again, around a fifth (20.7 per cent) of registered patients are declared obese on their medical records, around six per cent more than Ellesmere and 10 per cent more than Wem.