Calls for more GPs in Suffolk town

HEALTH bosses have insisted there is no looming crisis in a Suffolk town's GP services despite local fears.Richard Spring, MP for Haverhill, is concerned the shortage of doctors in the town will leave some people living in the growing community without GP cover.

HEALTH bosses have insisted there is no looming crisis in a Suffolk town's GP services despite local fears.

Richard Spring, MP for Haverhill, is concerned the shortage of doctors in the town will leave some people living in the growing community without GP cover.

He has written to Joanna Spicer, chairman of the Suffolk West Primary Care Trust, urging her to take action.

In the letter, the MP said: "I would ask you to tackle this problem with urgency. I appreciate there is a shortage of GPs both nationally and in Suffolk but that cannot be a reason in the longer run not to have this problem solved when the need is so crystal clear.


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"Given the growth in the population I am getting increasingly anxious about this problem."

However, Mrs Spicer insisted the shortage of doctors was being tackled in the town and plans to cater for Haverhill's ever expanding population were in hand.

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In her written response to Mr Spring, she said a new facility to replace the current Clements Surgery in the town was expected to be open by the autumn of next year, with a planning application set to go before St Edmundsbury Borough Council later this month.

Mrs Spicer stressed: "The new surgery, details of which were presented to Haverhill Town Council on March 25, will have the capacity for an additional 5,000 patients.

"As far as Haverhill is concerned there are currently 28,460 patients registered with local GPs. We have planned capacity to register an additional 5,000 next year.

"The Local Plan published by the borough suggests a further 1,850 houses in Haverhill by 2015 (560 between now and 2006).

"We allow for 2.4 patients per household so the projected growth overall is just under an extra 4,500 patients, which is well within our immediate plans and we do not anticipate a crisis."

Mrs Spicer said a small group under the auspices of the trust had been given the job of ensuring adequate planning for further population growth across the whole area.

As far as GP recruitment in Haverhill was concerned, she said recent adverts for salaried doctors to help at the Clements Surgery had attracted five candidates: "This is very encouraging.

"I appreciate in the very short term there may still be some problems in Haverhill, but…we are making progress to resolve them."

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