GP exodus not likely

PUBLISHED: 15:46 26 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:41 26 October 2009

Sir - Further to your coverage of Mr Shapps crusade (WHT, Aug 6) to save local GPs surgeries from possible (?!) closure, together with the response from Mr Hobday, the Labour parliamentary candidate, claiming party political scaremongering by the MP

Sir - Further to your coverage of Mr Shapps' crusade (WHT, Aug 6) to save local GPs' surgeries from possible (?!) closure, together with the response from Mr Hobday, the Labour parliamentary candidate, claiming party political scaremongering by the MP over the government's proposal to open GP-led health centres...

While Mr Shapps may have received letters of concern from every GP in Welwyn Hatfield it is a particular paragraph of the MP's which drew my attention, and I quote: "The concern is when these super clinics open naturally there aren't more people so you will end up with GPs' surgeries closing.''

I find it difficult to reconcile that particular contradictory and inconsistent claim with his much advertised and dire warnings about the effect the proposed building of 10,000 new homes in Welwyn Hatfield would have without the necessary infrastructure to support them.

Surely, should this building programme go ahead, in total or even in part, there will be a considerable increase in the local population, and rather than closures, the situation will require more doctors and more locally situated surgeries, whether by the expansion of existing practices, or an influx of new GPs setting up around the area, if current doctors' lists are already at full capacity.

It would appear then that there's a certain amount of "gilding of the lily" by Mr Shapps, dependant on what is expedient at the time.

With only one new health centre intended locally, possibly on the QE2 site, with the aim of offering evening and weekend opening, ability to book appointments or the benefit of just walking in to see a GP there will, obviously, appeal to a section of the community.

Would this lead to the general exodus which would threaten, according to Mr Shapps, the existence of long established GP practices?

Who would be deserting in their droves? Hard facts, or even a forecast for the benefit of the skeptical, might be the best bet for the MP before producing, his "surgery packs" containing yet more petition forms, leaflets and posters.

By co-incidence, before purchasing the WHT, I had, that Wednesday morning, driven to my doctor's surgery some distance away and was queuing outside, before 8,30am, in order to secure an appointment for that day when reception opened. There's dedication for you!

G Aitken, Harwood Hill, WGC.

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