Chi Onwurah calls for Newcastle GP services to be protected
Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central has written to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for health [see letter below], Steve Brine, requesting a meeting to discuss GP availability and problems facing patients in Newcastle.
This follows her question to the Health Minister calling for quality and consistency of GP service for all in Newcastle Central.
In her question to the Minister, Ms Onwurah said:
“Newcastle has fantastic GPs but many of my poorest and most vulnerable constituents suffer from GP unavailability and constantly changing providers because of the requirement to retender every couple of years to a market which quite frankly doesn’t want them. They are too poor or too marginalized to be made money from.
So will the minister meet with me in my local Clinical Commissioning Group to find out how we can ensure that they get the quality and consistency of GP services that they deserve.”
In his answer the minister committed to meeting with Chi and the Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Ms Onwurah’s question followed meetings with councillors Sue Pearson, Anne Schofield and Stephen Lambert, and Dr Neil Morris, medical director at NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG and Wendy Stephens, Primary Care Contracts Manager for NHS England – Cumbria and North East.
They discussed the repeated changes to GP services in Elswick, Blakelaw and Cowgate because of the ways in which GP services are contracted for.
The current NHS Personal Services contract in the Grainger Road and Ponteland General Practice requires regular retendering which does not enable investment or encourage GPs to make a longer commitment to an area, causing uncertainty for vulnerable people in all areas of Newcastle.
Combined with the shortage of GPs particularly in areas with lower income patients, this often results in temporary and expensive agency doctors who do not have the time to adequately get to know their patients’ needs.
Earlier this week campaigners launched a fight to save the Ponteland General Practice, amidst fears that it could be closed. The campaign is supported by Ms Onwurah as well as councillors Stephen Lambert, Ged Bell, Jane Streather, Oscar Avery, Sue Pearson and Nora Casey.
Ms Onwurah has raised this issue to ensure that patients in Newcastle Central have consistent and reliable access to quality healthcare services, and that GP services are provided in a more sustainable way.