Watchdog criticises surgery decision

A HEALTH watchdog has criticised a decision to close vital GP surgeries at the weekends in north Essex.Seven practices in the Tendring district are to shut their doors to patients on Saturday mornings in a bid to allow GPs to take a break.

A HEALTH watchdog has criticised a decision to close vital GP surgeries at the weekends in north Essex.

Seven practices in the Tendring district are to shut their doors to patients on Saturday mornings in a bid to allow GPs to take a break.

The areas which, will be affected will be in Clacton and Frinton with residents having to use an out-of-hours care service called "primecare".

Primecare allows patients to access out of hours treatment from a pool of GPs.


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Gary Sweeney, chairman of Tendring Primary Care Trust's executive committee, said the plan was part of a new agreement with doctors so they would only be responsible for their patients between 8am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

He said: "More and more GPs are taking up the option of arranging Saturday cover for their patients through primecare so that the GPs can have some quality time of their own at the weekend which will make it easier for them to perform to their optimum during the week."

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But last night, VickieWilliams, chairwoman of Tendring Health Action Group, said patient care would suffer.

She said: "You can't even get a doctor out-of-hours at the moment. This is going to put more pressure on Colchester General Hospital - there will be more 999 calls.

"Sorry, we can't say when we are going to be ill – and only be ill during the week."

She said arguing the changes would give doctors a rest did not stack up.

"Primecare has not worked for the people of Tendring. We have heard this where doctors say they are tired, and we appreciate that, but some of these GPs go and work for primecare in their time off.

"I am horrified, when the Government introduced PCTs we really had hope, but now the people of Tendring are so disillusioned because there is so much bureaucracy and not enough money for patient care," she said.

Peter Richardson, spokesman for Tendring PCT said the changes were just an extension to the existing out-of-hours service and there was no reason why more people would call 999.

n From September 6 the following surgeries will close on Saturday mornings and arrange cover through primecare – Drs Cullen and Sweeney, Pier Avenue, Clacton; Dr Guille, Crusader Business Park, Clacton; Dr Stewart and Partners, Frinton Road, Holland-on-Sea; Dr Harrison and Partners, Station Approach, Frinton; Dr Geldard and Partners, Walton-on-the-Naze; Dr Faerestrand and Partners, Wellesley Road, Clacton and Dr Steiner and Partners, the Green, Great Bentley.

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