GPs are against Government's polyclinic plans

Sir – I refer to your recent letter from Labour s Parliamentary candidate Mike Hobday where he talks about concern that the government s so-called Polyclinic (a centralised GP surgery in WGC) could eventually result in our local GP surgeries being placed

Sir - I refer to your recent letter from Labour's Parliamentary candidate Mike Hobday where he talks about concern that the government's so-called Polyclinic (a centralised GP surgery in WGC) could eventually result in our local GP surgeries being placed under threat of closure.

First of all, for the record, it was the local GPs themselves who collectively wrote to me in the spring to express their deep reservations over the latest government plans for our local healthcare.

I responded to their concerns by promising to raise the subject and then by setting up the campaign which I am glad to say continues to attract significant support amongst Welwyn Hatfield residents who care about access to their local GPs.

The Labour spokesman then complains that doctors no longer offer out-of-hour services and claims that the polyclinic will be the answer. However, he omits to mention that GPs did previously offer both night time and weekend cover until his government effectively did away with these important local services during an ineptly negotiated GP contract a few years back.

Finally, although I realise that Labour's man feels that he has no choice but to defend his discredited government, I can't help but feel that his assurances about the future of our healthcare system will ring hollow for those of us who live in Welwyn Hatfield. We are after all unlikely to forget that his Labour government promised us a super-hospital in Hatfield before the last General Election, but that as soon as they lost this seat the new hospital disappeared. But then, as if to punish us, they also allowed the A&E, maternity, paediatrics, elderly care and all surgery at our QE2 Hospital to be axed by 2010.

Presumably, prior to these things happening, he would have been instructed to tell us that it could never happen here. But they did. And I don't think we will therefore take any lectures from Labour about maintaining services in Welwyn Hatfield again.

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Grant Shapps MP.

SIR - re 'Disgraceful Scaremongering' (letters, October 15): I object to Mike Hobday's attack on Grant Shapps.

However meritorious this GP led surgery may be it IS bound to lead to surgery closures.

All surgeries have mapped boundaries and there is no way that the original surgeries around The QE2 Hospital will be able to maintain sufficient numbers to make them viable.

Mike Hobday also conveniently forgets that it was the Labour party which introduced the ridiculous 48-hour appointment times thereby creating a situation where telephone lines are jammed as patients fight to get through at the same time.

Labour also negotiated the new GP contract, justifiably increasing wages yet decreasing hours worked which is why we no longer have access to Saturday morning/late night surgeries.

Political debate is vital but only when it is truly democratic and the voices of the people are heard and not pushed to one side because of party politics.

Name and address supplied .

Sir - I think that Mike Hobday of the Labour Party needs reminding that a Polyclinic would not just introduce competition for patients, but also for GPs themselves. Doctors may be tempted to move their practices to the new facility, thus removing them out of our neighbourhood surgeries.

This would not be good for the vulnerable people in our local communities who depend upon the personal nature and convenience of local GP surgeries.

At the last general election Gordon Brown promised Welwyn Hatfield a new hospital. If Grant Shapps had suggested then that this promise might be broken I am sure that Mike Hobday would have claimed that this was 'scaremongering'.

I think that Grant Shapps should be supported in his campaign and that in view of the Labour Government's record of u-turns and broken promises, Mr Hobday should think twice before accusing him of scaremongering.

Mrs M Elizabeth Hammond, Elmoor Avenue, Welwyn.

SIR - If Mike Hobday chooses to believe the assurances of those who have misled us over healthcare in the past, so be it. But he should not deny the facts of the matter. Our existing surgeries provide an excellent, reliable and personal service. Mr Hobday's predecessor promised us a new hospital and the result was no new hospital and drastic cuts to our existing, local hospital.

If a polyclinic is established, there will be a temptation for local doctors to move their practices to it. This will mean that local surgeries face every possibility of shutting up shop. Local communities will be denied their local doctors.

I am not against the idea of a polyclinic per se. There may well be benefits to including such a range of healthcare under one roof (a bit like, for example, a hospital!). But in Welwyn Hatfield we have a network of GPs which is second to none. While many areas may benefit from such a facility, Welwyn Hatfield should be against such an alteration to provisions.

Name and address supplied.