PCT chief under fire over GP budget cuts
By Jo Deeks on Wednesday, 3rd October 2007.
ANGRY residents and councillors have forced health chiefs to justify savage cuts to doctors' budgets at a public meeting.
Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of the Suffolk Primary Care Trust, and three other officials, were put on the spot at a meeting of Haverhill Town Council on Tuesday.
The room was too small to hold everyone who turned up but those who managed to get into the meeting rejected assurances that the cuts were justified.
Under a new national formula almost £300,000 is set to be trimmer from the budgets of the three doctors' practices in the town over the next five years.
Ms Taylor-Brown said the cuts were justified as they would restore equality of spending on patients across Suffolk.
A petition against the cuts has already gained more than 8,000 signatures.
Ann Sission, practice manage at Christmas Maltings surgery, said it was inevitable the two doctors as well as nursing staff would be lost if the cuts went ahead.
Mrs Sission said: "Haverhill has come out worse than any other town in Suffolk and nobody can tell us why. It is inevitable that we will lose doctors and that our patients will suffer. This is worrying us to death. We have looked and looked at our figures and we cannot see any way around this.
"Under the fundering formula although we have 10,000 patients, we only get funding for 8,600 of them. What am i supposed to do when i have only two doctors and two nurses on a monday morning, what am i supposed to tell the patients?
"We have no other services in Haverhill, there is no X-ray or nothing. Our GP's do far more than other surgeries."
Speaking at the meeting, Coun Ann Thomas pointed out that 750 new homes were to be built in the northwest Haverhill, and a similar number at Hanchett Village.
She said: "we have a very large young and elderly population and how much further from a hospital do we have to be to get more money?
"We need the money now and we will need it even more in five years. [The PCT] has changed so many times, if [it] had been reorganised a few less times and got rid of a few administrators there might be more money in the pot.
"The NHS has always been top heavy with management."
Coun Maureen Byrne, said the PCT should return to the town to give an explanation to residents.
"People are genuinely concerned that services here are going to deteriorate and the PCT owes it to them to attend a public meeting. We will fight this to the end as i think it is totally unacceptable."
Also at the meeting was Dr Felicity Lewis, who was moved to Haverhill from south london five months ago.
She Said: "I did not see half the patients there that i do here. If we lost doctors more people who go to A&E which costs even more.
"We work long hours and i regularly see 10 to 15 extra patients a day. We cannot do any more."
Defending the planned cuts, Ms Taylor-Brown said new contacts for doctors had been agreen on a national formula and approved by GP's, which was considered the fairest way to allocate funds across Suffolk. It took into account factors such as age, deprivation and the number of local immigrant workers.
She said: "There are other practices providing the same services for less money. We have to consider the needs of all patients across Suffolk, but if there is evidence of special circumstances we will look at it. We believe there are efficiency savings which can be made and the changes will be brought in over a five year period to give practices time to adjust."
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