WE ARE very concerned that the Government appears to be encour-aging more commercial companies to run GP surgeries rather than the current practice of GP's running their practices on behalf of their patients.

These commercial companies are accountable firstly to their shareholders, not their patients and naturally patient care and views will inevitably suffer.

Another danger is that these commercial companies may be offered short-term contracts leading to a higher turnover of doctors who will become unfamiliar with their patients and their overall and long term health needs, adversely affecting the personal relationship between doctor and patient and the advantages of knowing intimately the overall health condition of the patient. (Computers do not always tell the whole story!)

Further, we are concerned that the Government's plans to introduce large health centres or polyclinics across the country rather than increase funding for extra services in local surgeries will be counterproductive.

These health centres may contain up to 25 GP's who will find it hard to maintain the personal relationship with their patients that is in existence with the current local family doctor.

The changes may also threaten the very survival of the local surgery which is the preferred choice of many patients, particular-ly parents of young children and older patients.

As a grandmother I feel that children need to be seen by someone they are familiar with and not a different doctor on every occasion.

Patients will begin to be treated not as patients but merely as customers.

We would like to see the Government improve services by further investing in existing GP surgeries and not pour money into building these unnecessary polyclinics which inevitably will see patients having to travel further to get to see their doctor and will lead to longer waiting times once at the surgery.

Not all patients have access to personal transport and neither do all patients have the time and means to travel long distances to these larger centres.

Residents in the borough need to be aware of the changes that are being made and there is at present a national campaign to present a petition to the Prime Minister in June with the NHS General Practice 60th Birthday Card.

People can log their protest by writing to their local MP and signing the petition at their local surgery.


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