Claims of thousands more GP consultations ‘pie in the sky’,

Credit: This story was first seen on Essex Live

Doctors and campaigners have slammed Essex NHS bosses’ claim that a radical reform plan could mean thousands more GP consultations, Essex Live reports.

The Essex Success Regime, which incorporates Broomfield, Basildon and Southend hospitals, published the Mid and South Essex sustainability and transformation plan (STP) on November 23.

The proposals have proven controversial, with 5,219 people signing a petition against downgrades which could see ambulances taking Chelmsford patients in need of emergency care on long journeys to Basildon or Southend.

Now another part of the STP has been blasted by doctors and campaigners – its claim that ‘consultations with GPs, nurses and others’ could rise by 2,600 a year following efficiency improvements.

The figure has been labelled ‘pie in the sky’, with concerns rife over high numbers of GPs struggling to meet patient demand, retiring or leaving the county for London.

49% of current GPs in Mid and South Essex are expected to retire within three to five years, according to Health Education England.

And in April, it was revealed that there are around 1,900 patients to every GP in Essex, compared to the national ratio of 1,700 patients to every GP.

One person who disagrees with the STP’s claim is a GP, Dr John Cormack based at South Woodham Ferrers’ Greenwood.

Formerly known as John Cormack, he changed his name by deed poll in 2013 in protest against lack of funding to the NHS.

He said: “2,600 more GP consultations per year is pie in the sky. There is some doubt that general practice will exist in its present form by the time these plans are put into place. All GPs with the sense they were born with are getting out as fast as they can.

“In order to make this plan work general practice needs to be supported and funded to take on extra work. We’ve already been asked to put a quart into a pint pot so there is no room for anything else. There’s no slack in the system.”

Like the former Dr Cormack, Ian Gillard is a GP at Greenwood, which is expected to take on a third of the 4,500 South Woodham Ferrers patients who will need a new surgery following The Practice’s closure next March.

Dr Gillard said: “There has been a saga of surgeries being underfunded. In South Woodham Ferrers, patients are already upping stumps from The Practice and registering at Greenwood. I think it is undoubtedly going to put strain on services, but there is a plan which we hope will be viable.

“2,600 extra consultations is a great ambition, but what I would like to see is how they would go about achieving this.”

Andy Abbott, 47, of Skerry Rise in Chelmsford, is a member of Defend The NHS, the campaign behind the petition against Broomfield Hospital’s possible downgrade.

“I do not buy the 2,600 consultations claim,” he said. What is quite clear is this is a reorganisation absolutely being driven by cuts. What those behind the plans have been saying makes it quite clear that the issue they are dealing with is a financial one. If there are less resources available, it does not make sense there will be more access to consultations.”

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