Last autumn Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a ‘golden hello’ scheme to help attract desperately needed GPs to Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh. 200 trainee doctors were to be offered a one off payment of £20k if they started their careers in coastal or rural practices. The scheme was hailed by local MP Damian Collins who appeared in television interviews about it and tweeted: “I’ve discussed with Jeremy Hunt how Shepway could benefit from new £20,000 ‘golden hello’ fund to recruit new GPs”
Now the golden hello appears to be waving goodbye to Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh.
Labour understands that the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been told East Kent is not eligible to benefit from the scheme because it already attracts trainees. The CCG is challenging the decision.
Earlier this year Damian Collins published a letter from Jeremy Hunt promising “a good and improving GP service” for local people.
Labour has been speaking out about the local GP crisis for months. Earlier in January Laura Davison, Labour’s candidate in the 2017 General Election. visited Guildhall Surgery in Folkestone to see first-hand the pressures surgeries are under. At 8.30am there were 14 people queuing outside in the wind and rain to try and get an appointment. The surgery had part of the waiting room cordoned off after lead was stolen off the roof over Christmas, and were two doctors short due to leave and sickness. All the initial on the day appointments had gone by 8.55am.
“The fact that East Kent will not be eligible for this scheme is jaw dropping. It was always a sticking plaster over a gaping wound, but now even that plaster has been ripped off. Another Tory promise about our NHS, like the earlier pledge to ensure a good and improving service, has turned to dust.
While we welcome trainee GP’s we need to make sure we retain them beyond their training instead of losing them to better funded parts of Kent.
Seeing the pressure our surgeries are under at first-hand has brought home even more clearly that the current situation is unsustainable. A Labour government would ensure the NHS gets £6 billion of extra funding each year for the lifetime of the next parliament and would prioritise patients not cuts.”
To fight for our NHS, join us from 9.30-10.30am on Saturday February 3rd in Folkestone town centre and then on the 11am train to London for the national demonstration.