Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Proposed closure of GP practice at Accrington Victoria - my letter of objection to NHS England

Dear Martin Clayton,

I am writing to you regarding Accrington Victoria Health Access Centre's GP Service.

I am incredibly passionate about raising health levels in Hyndburn, health levels which are significantly below what they should be and deteriorating amongst those on lower incomes. I am anxious therefore about the possibility of a reduction or cancellation of the provision of this service by NHS England north west group. Moreover I have been contacted by a number of constituents, including the patients' group highlighting their concerns.

I am resolutely opposed to the closure or a reduction in the level of service offered at the GP Service. I am fully supportive of the patients' group and the local authority in this respect. People use this service because there is an existing demand which the NHS has a responsibility to meet. It primarily helps hard working families, who find the hours and accessibility of the surgery fit around their working lives.

Moreover I share the concerns of the patients' group that the length of the consultation is frankly too short. The letter to registered patients was sent out on the 29th January, and the closing date was the 19th February – I only received the copy of the survey document on the 17th – 2 days before it closed. There is a sense that NHS England has decided that this closure is simply going to go ahead, and the consultation process is merely a formality – I sincerely hope this is not the case, and would appreciate this being made clear.

As you know, East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group is already considering the future of the walk in centre on the basis – more or less – that too many people use it. This is perverse logic which makes absolutely no sense in a modern NHS, and I hope that it is not one which is in any way informing the decisions surrounding the GP Service.

I realise that the contract is up for renewal, and I do not oppose this formality, however I urge you to look at the facts, the real existing demand, the health inequalities and the value for money which is offered by the GP service at the Health Access Centre.

The Government has consistently stated that the NHS budget would not be cut, and if financial pressures are playing a role in this decision making I would be incredibly concerned. Across Hyndburn I see the health service contracting, and ministers must explain why services are being reduced, a fact which was made abundantly clear on my recent visit to my local A&E at Royal Blackburn.

Yours sincerely
Graham Jones MP