Richmond GP hours will be increased to offer services 12 hours a day, seven days a week, after a huge £2.6m government grant.
David Cameron recently awarded the Richmond General Practice Alliance the sum – which is in partnership with the council and the Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
With 500 surgeries facing closure due to an apparent ‘recruitment crisis’ thousands of patients could be left without a GP, according to a report from the Royal College of General Practioners (RGCP).
However Richmond Park Liberal Democrat candidate Robin Meltzer is not convinced with the Tory model.
“You can’t just wave a magic wand and say longer hours, open at weekends,” he said.
“It takes years to train a doctor and the last thing you want at the end of that tax-payer funded course is for them to go overseas.
“They are saying they are going to do £8billion for the NHS but they haven’t specified where a single penny of that will come from.”
Dr Darren Tymens, Sheen Lane Health Centre GP and chairman of the Richmond General Practice alliance, said: “There is no we have to learn to work smarter.
“I think it’s fair to say GPs have never been under greater pressure and general practice is struggling under the workload.
“Part of the problem is the resources. They are so meagre compared to hospitals. Nine out of ten patients seen in the NHS everyday are seen in general practice.
“Only one in ten are seen in hospitals or the community sector and only about seven and a half per cent of the NHS money is going into general practice to provide 90% of the care.”
The scheme will also utilise new technology, allowing appointments to be reserved via mobile phone and conversing via video or email.
Conservative councillor Lisa Blakemore, cabinet member for public health in Richmond lauded the scheme as ‘fantastic’.
“Everywhere you go people are saying they need to get more access and they can’t get in to A&E. Why wouldn’t people embrace this? It’s what we need, it’s fantastic!”
The initiative has attracted a vast array of detractors for not addressing the current GP shortage crisis, with just one seventh of doctors completing GP foundation training.
The demand for GPs is vastly exceeding the supply, with almost 16% of London GP’s nearing retirement age, reports the London Assembly Health Committee.
Population ageing and growth – there are 159,000 more patient consultations in GP practices each day than in 2010 – is greatly overstretching GPs across Britain.
Image courtesy of Lucas Hayas, with thanks
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