Wiltshire Publications

Local concerns about a seven day NHS

LOCAL health campaigners have expressed concerns about doctors surgeries’ ability to cope with  government plans for a seven day NHS service. 

The government is exploring ways to make the NHS more accessible by making more services available. However, Erica Watson who is a spokesperson for the Westbury League of Friends and a member of the STOP group, has mixed feelings about the plans.

“I get the impression that a lot of the surgeries are struggling to cope with growing appointment demands, staff and continuity of care,” she said. “The idea is great, but there are lots of questions that need to be asked. The extra costing has to be considered. With the surgeries being open longer, the number of appointments will increase, but is there the staff to cover them?

“Also, will there be overtime payments on a Sunday for all the staff? Will they be able to afford the extra running costs, electric, heating, water? Also, how many GPs want to work on a Sunday?

“The concept is good but there needs a be a lot more discussion before anything happens.”

Regarding the White Horse Health Centre in Westbury, an NHS England spokesperson said, “White Horse Surgery together with Bratton Practice provide primary care services to Westbury’s 14,000 population. The practices within the town, although busy are not at a point where additional demand on services outweighs the resources we have.

“Having said that, to help ease the pressure we are looking to introduce more integrated health and social care teams which offer primary care provision in the community and who will work with GPs to support people in their own homes.”

When asked about how he felt about the proposals, Westbury MP Dr Andrew Murrison said, “I am constantly reminded by constituents of the difficulty in getting GP appointments when they want them. Clearly minister have been listening to concerns of this sort and have acted in a way that will improve access to primary care.

“I very much look forward to supporting government plans announced in the Queen’s Speech which will greatly benefit healthcare delivery in our area.”