Improving access to GPs and health services

Rochester and Strood's GP practices are under increasing strain to provide the service necessary for a growing population. We have already seen a couple of single-handed practices close which adds to the pressure on others.

Medway is growing and GP surgeries are struggling to retain the doctors and nurses needed to support our community and their financial and administrative support is dwindling. I have been struck at how much red tape and paperwork our GPs have to contend with on a daily basis when all they want to do is doctoring. It is time we got back to basics.

Since being elected I have organised a series of roundtable with GPs and their practice representatives to discuss the issues and challenges impeding their work. The main issues highlighted are around funding formulas and easing the burdens that puts off potential new doctors or contribute to those who are trained taking their skills elsewhere.

I have also met with NHS South East and Medway CCG during which it was confirmed some pots of Section 106 funding reserved for practice improvements was been located at Medway Council, as well as discussions around a review of the GPs funding formula. I will be continuing to maintain this engagement to ensure Council held funds are distributed as intended and that our health services are part of the strategic dialogue within the Medway Local Plan, which might see over 60,000 more people move to the area.

Moreover, I am in contact with the Department of Health to put forward our local GP's cases and trying to push initiatives that save the future of our practices. I will be meeting the Health Secretary to highlight the issues in Medway and request more attention to be given to our GP and primary healthcare services.

Over the next year I am aiming to see appropriate funds available to GPs utilised to fullest extent, facilitate inclusion of NHS and local health sector to Local Plan dialogue and fight to keep open threatened community GP practices.