Letters: Health leaders are contradicting themselves about lack of GPs

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Cllr Dean Crofts

Dear editor,

This is a letter in response to the recent article: Building new surgeries won’t solve problem of lack of GPs says local NHS chair published on Bedford Independent on 26 July.

In the article, Dr Rima Makarem, the Chair of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) claims that building new GP surgeries won’t solve the problem many residents are facing with access.

However, a Bedford Independent article published only six months previously has Felicity Cox, the BLMK ICB Chief Executive, claiming that they had to the opportunity to bring in eight trainee GPs but they had to turn it down due to a lack of clinical space (see Local health bosses say it’s a “tragedy” they had to turn down trainee GPs)

This complete contradiction will be very concerning to residents struggling to get a GP appointment. This suggests the ICB do not know how to solve the issue and just saying that this is a national problem simply isn’t good enough. Our residents need to know there is a strategy in place to reduce waiting times and find a solution to the problem.

The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for better primary care access for years. We understand the importance of recruitment and retention of GPs and have been calling for improvements both nationally and locally.

However, in January we were told the BLMK area had the opportunity to gain eight new trainee GPs but we missed out because of the lack of physical space. Therefore, at least within our area, clearly the key issue is capital investment.

That is why we were outraged when the ICB chose to not go ahead with GP infrastructure schemes in places like Wootton, Wixams and Shortstown earlier this year.

That is why we campaigned extensively to save Putnoe Walk-in Centre and will keep fighting for a more long-term contract.

And that is why we put forward a motion, and the Council agreed, to ensure that the Executive must consider innovative Capital Funding Programmes to help with the building of local GP surgeries to increase the GP estate in Bedford Borough and prioritise the urgently needed GP capacity. 

Residents need clarity from the ICB. Saying one thing and then completely contradicting it does not show that they are on top of this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Dean Crofts (Kingsbrook Ward)
Health spokesperson, Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats

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