Save our Surgeries
I am becoming very concerned at the impact of several government policies on the viability of local doctor's surgeries, especially in rural areas.
I attended a meeting of the Gosforth and Ennerdale neighbourhood forum this evening at which two of the local councillors present reported on a meeting they had had earlier in the day with one of the senior partners of the practice which runs Seascale Health Centre.
The government is proposing that GP practices will no longer be allowed to run pharmacies where there is an independent pharmacy within a mile of the surgery. This could be very bad news for several GP surgeries in the area where income from embedded pharmacies helps to pay for the salaries of doctors.
Overall some 17 GP practices in Cumbria are affected including surgeries at Seascale, Bootle, and Whitehaven.
This would be bad enough if the pharmacy policy was the only thing the government is doing which is likely to harm rural GP practices, but in fact it is one prong of a three-pronged assault. The second is the proposal to promote large "Polyclinics" with up to 20 doctors, to resource which it is likely that some smaller practices will close. And the third is that Health Secretary Alan Johnson has announced he intends to abolish the minimum guaranteed practice income scheme which keeps many small surgeries open.
Taken together these policies represent a serious threat to our rural GP services, which following on from the loss of other rural amenities such as Post Offices is bad news for rural communities and also for urban communities in sparsely populated areas such as Cumbria.
More details on my hospitals & health blog - see link at right.