Cuts in health spending have prompted one South Croydon NHS doctors’ surgery to withdraw two key services, issuing an angrily worded leaflet decrying “unachievable” targets and saying that the government-imposed changes could be “detrimental to patient care”.
The Parkside Group Practice, on Wyche Grove, off the Brighton Road, has eight doctors based there, and offers a range of other health care services. It has been distributing a newsletter to patients who visit its busy waiting room, announcing that from July 1, it will no longer offer travel vaccination services nor a smoking cessation service.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly,” says the newsletter issued on behalf of the doctors, not a group of people usually known for their militancy.
The language used in the notice is remarkable for its frankness.
“This is a time of great change for General Practice, the recent government review has seen a significant reduction in practice funding,” the emphasis is provided by the GPs, “at a time when the work flowing from hospitals to GPs is increasing exponentially.
“The most recent changes have been imposed on General Practice by the Department of Health, some consider some of these targets to be unachievable and in some cases detrimental to patient care,” the doctors’ notice says.
“Any additional services that we have previously offered to our patients that were unfunded will have to be cut so that we can concentrate on core contracted services.”
As part of the creeping privatisation of the NHS under the Conservative-led government, the vaccination service is now being offered through travel clinics and chemist chains. Those smokers who want to quit are being offered “tips” via phone texts.
The Parkside GPs’ increasing workload can see some patients having to wait for six weeks or more for a routine appointment to see their doctor, despite the practice having a system of extended opening hours.
On April 1, Croydon Council took over some public health services from the NHS, including helping smokers to kick the habit.
Croydon Council has been accused of having “an appalling conflict of interest”, because it also has £2.1 million of its pension fund invested in the tobacco industry.
Between 2008 and 2010, more than 550 people in the borough died due to health issues attributed to smoking.
Public Health England (PHE) this week said that, “London has significant challenges with heart disease and stroke, cancer, lung disease and liver disease.” Smoking is acknowledged as a major cause of heart disease, strokes, and of cancer and lung disease.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director of PHE London, said, “We can all do things that contribute to better health for ourselves, such as stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, being a healthy weight and being physically active, all of which can lead to us living longer lives with less disability.”
Except in Croydon, where our council invests in tobacco while GPs are being forced to withdraw anti-smoking services.
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