The loss of Mevagissey Surgery would be an absolute tragedy for an entire community and particularly for those in greatest need. That is why it is important to understand the national context of how this crisis has been created.
Since the Coalition Government’s catastrophic 2012 Health and Social Care Act, more than 1100 GP practices covering 4.2m people, have closed or merged. That is one in eight. The sharp fall in practice numbers - along with a 6% rise in patients registered with a GP - has seen the average practice list size increase by 22%. GP numbers have fallen by 4% and their workloads are becoming unsustainable. The Royal College of GP’s say that the health service in England is 6,000 doctors short of what it needs. Nine out of ten doctors (according to a huge BMA survey) believe the shortages are putting patient safety at risk. That is why it is difficult to recruit doctors. It has become as difficult to recruit nurses too, with 42000 vacancies in the UK.
When Woodland Road Surgery was closed by St Austell Healthcare over a year ago, the principle reason given was because of difficulties in recruiting new doctors. When I delivered a petition with over 1750 signatures protesting the closure of the surgery, NHS England, the unelected quango which now commissions the service, completely ignored it.
The closure of Woodland Road saw thousands of patients transferred to other surgeries and waiting (and travel) times inevitably increased. The crisis in healthcare is a direct consequence of this government’s triple-whammy. Firstly, despite hollow and misleading claims of, “record NHS spending,” the NHS has suffered the largest real-terms cuts to funding in its 71-year history. Secondly, it has endured the biggest reorganisation ever (despite promises not to) at a cost of over £1.5bn. Thirdly, ever increasing privatisation has inevitably has led to rising costs and poorer services.
No responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lies with the doctors, or any of the other staff at the Practice. They work longer hours than ever, yet continue to provide the very best service in increasingly difficult circumstances. It is important that we continue to support them in their efforts to keep the surgery open. At the same time the politicians, who are responsible for this mess, should be held accountable for their failure. It would at least be helpful if, rather than grandstanding and offering banal platitudes, they were to demonstrate some humility and maybe even a little contrition.
St Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Wardt Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Ward i
St Austell Town Councillor for Bethel Ward i
This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party