Folkestone doctors say they warned MP of impending GP crisis almost two years ago
Surgeries say primary care provision could collapse completely.
Folkestone’s GPs warned MP Damian Collins about the impending crisis in the town’s primary care services almost two years ago, Labour has learned.
A press release issued on 2 October by seven of the town’s GP surgeries says the crisis was preventable and that they warned the MP and the Clinical Commissioning Group that:
“There will come a point that practices will no longer be able to look after patients safely and will have no other option than to hand back their contract which will result in the destabilisation of neighbouring practices.This is the crisis that we are currently facing in Folkestone.”
The GPs say their concerns over patient safety have not been listened to by the Clinical Commissioning Group. There is a ratio of over 3,000 patients to one GP in some practices in the town — the practices claim other areas have had successful list closure approval when the number of patients per full time equivalent GP was around 2,000 patients to one GP.
The surgeries say they intend to appeal against the CCG’s decision to reject their formal list closure applications.
They say only around 200 patients have now been moved to other surgeries in the town, despite earlier claims by Damian Collins it was 1500.
The GPs are now warning that the system faces total collapse:
“This unsustainable situation affects every single resident of Folkestone, every surgery is struggling to meet demand and the sad truth is that over the next year we will lose more GPs to retirement, as over one third of our GPs are at retirement age and with the current work pressure they will choose to retire sooner rather than later which will cause the current primary care provision to collapse completely.
Despite the crisis facing current residents, new housing developments have been approved and some are near completion, these plans have all been made without any consultation with local GPs adding further strain on an already overstretched service.”
Reacting to the press release Laura Davison, Folkestone and Hythe Labour candidate at the General Election, said:
“These shocking revelations expose how catastrophic this crisis is and how avoidable. These warnings came two years ago and yet we are now less than a month from the closure of Folkestone East practice.
Patients were assured by Damian Collins last week that they will be allocated to a new doctor. Now we learn the surgeries are appealing against the allocation. How can any patient trust his guarantees or feel secure that any new practice will be safely staffed?
We need to see the immediate recruitment of locums to remedy this situation while a more permanent answer is sought. We need to sort out a level playing field on funding so that GP’s don’t go to other places at the expense of Folkestone.
In addition all planning applications should be suspended until the GP crisis is stabilised. Folkestone is not the only place with a crisis. New Romney and Hythe also have major GP problems. New Romney has a surgery with 13500 patients run by Invicta, a private company, who have only locums and practice nurses providing a skeleton service.”
Notes: A delegation went to Labour conference last week to raise the profile of what’s happening in the #FolkestoneGPCrisis. Watch the video here