Since being elected in 2015, I have consistently raised the issue of access to GP appointments on behalf of my constituents, as so many people tell me that it is very difficult to get a timely appointment when they or their family members need one. GP practices are the bedrock of our NHS, providing a wide range of vital services, and preventing many patients from having to attend A & E.
It is therefore of great concern that both the Coalition and Tory governments have allowed GP practices in Dulwich and West Norwood to close, and NHS England, which commissions GP services, does not have the resources to replace them. In 2014, the single doctor practice at Dulwich Hospital closed, and NHS England refused to replace it, despite there being a five year gap before the new medical centre will open on the Dulwich Hospital site.
Last month, the Brixton Water Lane practice closed, and at the end of this month, the Norwood Surgery is due to close, both due to GPs retiring. In both of these cases, NHS England undertook no public engagement prior to the decision to close being taken, communication with patients has taken place only at the last minute, and there appears to be no regard for the distance that patients will have to travel to access GP services.
This is the state of the NHS under the Tories. Amongst NHS services, GPs are vital because they undertake preventative work as well as reactive work, and in many cases they prevent hospital care being needed. GPs also have a relationship with their patients, and continuity of care with the same doctor is particularly important for people who are elderly or frail and those with complex or long term conditions.
I have written to NHS England to oppose these latest closures on behalf of local patients. If you are a patient at one of the affected practices, please get in touch to let me know the impact that the closures will have on your ability to access the care that you need, so that I can represent your views to NHS England and the Tory government.
I will continue to stand up for our precious NHS in the face of Tory cuts and closures if you re-elect me as your MP on 8 June.