HEALTH SERVICE: Time to stand up and be counted

THIS year, the NHS celebrates the 60th Birthday of General Practice. This means that for 60 years, our local GP surgeries have been providing the personalised care that our families and we need, from someone we know and trust, who knows our individual hea

THIS year, the NHS celebrates the 60th Birthday of General Practice. This means that for 60 years, our local GP surgeries have been providing the personalised care that our families and we need, from someone we know and trust, who knows our individual health and us.

But now, the BMA tell us in a leaflet, available at the Doddington Surgery and Medical Centre, that new government plans to change the way in which GP services are provided could put at risk the comprehensive, high quality patient care that the local surgery provides.

We in the PPG at Doddington have been concerned for a long time about the future of our surgery, and we are still no nearer knowing what the Cambridgeshire PCT has in mind for it.

However, the BMA say that government plans are to do two things: Firstly, to encourage commercial companies to own and run GP surgeries, companies who are accountable firstly to shareholders, not the patients. Secondly, it is understood that the government plans to introduce up to 250 large new health centres, 'Polyclinics', across England instead of funding extra services in local surgeries. I have been reliably informed that a huge Polyclinic is currently undergoing construction in the grounds of Peterborough Hospital, with parts of existing hospital buildings demolished to make way for it.

These centres can contain up to 25 GPs, meaning that doctors unknown to them and unfamiliar of the patient's history will see patients, who may lose the personal relationship they usually have with their current family doctor.

If you do not want these changes to happen - tell people!

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Tell your friends and family, and ask them to sign the petition.

Write to the Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust.

Write to your MP.

Write to the newspapers.

Patient members of our PPG at the Doddington Medical Centre have often asked me to save our surgery, and its GPs. Dr Hambling and the whole team give us a first rate service, and they all care. The patients do not want to lose this.

I say to all patients, if you value your family GP, and do not want to have to travel miles to a large impersonal Polyclinic to be seen by a stranger every time you attend the 'surgery', and have a long wait even for that, then get down to your local GP surgery NOW and sign the BMA's NHS General Practice 60th Birthday Card petition. You can also collect a BMA leaflet from the surgery.

This is not scaremongering.

Your local surgery needs you - please sign the card to show your support.

BUT HURRY! The petition has to be in by June 6 for presentation to Government in June.

TONY OSTERMEYER

Chairman

Doddington Patient Participation Group.

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