While I was in Liverpool, down in Bude last week there was a Liberal Democrats’ public meeting on the future of healthcare in the town. Some of you may have attended.
There has been some confusion among the public over the Stratton Medical Centre situation, so at the meeting, on behalf of the Stratton Doctors, Dr Hildenbrand read out a statement. It was based on continuity of care and the GP recruitment crisis.
Put simply, as GPs retire, in many areas, they are not being replaced and medical centres are closing, leaving patients in very difficult situations. Earlier this year, The Independent reported that the NHS drive for international recruitment had already fallen short of its first target by 500 GPs so there is a shortage of GPs as they retire or otherwise leave the profession. This article in The Economist says: A recent analysis by Imperial College London suggests that an additional 12,000 GPs will be required by 2020—more than twice the NHS’s target.It is a problem that is not going to go away, especially as the work of GPs becomes harder and more intense.
The statement said:
As you probably know, your doctors at Stratton Medical Centre recently resigned their contract to provide GP care to Bude. This was because of the national GP recruitment crisis: Like many surgeries throughout the UK, we could not guarantee to match our retirements against the availability of new doctors.
Many surgeries in this situation have closed suddenly and unexpectedly. This has caused chaos for patients and even bankruptcy for doctors. We were determined not to allow this to happen in Bude and we, therefore, took the measured but very painful decision to return our contract to NHS England.
NHS England – with our help – have passed our contract to Holsworthy Medical Centre. Holsworthy is a similar sized surgery from across the border in Devon. With no retirements, they are more resilient.
Stratton Medical Centre scores highly in all quality markers: Its ‘Friends and Family’ score is more than 90% average and has reached 99% several times. Its ”QOF” clinical quality score is 100% and our prescribing data reaches the top 10% for Cornwall. Our surgery is financially very sound and we are confident it is in optimal condition for our Holsworthy neighbours to take over.
Furthermore, although we will no longer be running Stratton Medical Centre, at least some of us are staying to help everyone through this time of change.
Our resignation marks the end of a tradition of partnership in Stratton that extends back generations. We wish the Holsworthy doctors well in taking over our successful and cherished practice. We hope that they will care for it and run it as we have – so that you – our patients and families – continue to receive the care you need into the future.
It must have been a very difficult decision made by the GPs and, I’m sure, and one which has been carried out in the best interests of patient care. Actually, however, it is the local manifestation of a national problem which central government needs to address. Fingers crossed they will, but health care should not rely on superstition, should it?