Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Expansion of Launceston Medical Centre

New Tory MP Scott Mann today used Prime Minister's Questions to press the case for the expansion of Launceston Medical Centre. In response, David Cameron told him that he hoped the centre would be part of the new 7-day per week opening.

Sadly, Scott got the wrong end of the stick with his question. He tried to shoehorn a reference to new funding for the NHS and asked whether this could be used to fund expansion. What he fails to realise is that the funding for this expansion is there. It is the bureaucracy of the new NHS Property Company which is holding up permission for the centre to expand to meet the needs of the people of the town. New money would of course be welcome, but it is not the sticking point.

The response from the Prime Minister is also pretty baffling. He wanted to triumph his party's pledge to introduce 7-day per week opening of doctor's surgeries. Again, this would be very welcome in Launceston. But in order to open for longer, you need more doctors, nurses and other practice staff. Launceston Medical Centre has been trying but cannot recruit doctors to fill the hours that it is currently open and this has led to some of the delays for patients. This is not a problem restricted to Launceston but is replicated at practices across Cornwall. The reason is once again the bureaucracy introduced by the Conservatives and the lower number of trainee doctors choosing to enter general practice.

The former Lib Dem MP for North Cornwall Dan Rogerson was extremely active in the campaign to expand Launceston Medical Centre but came up against Conservative brick walls time and again. For the sake of the people of Launceston, I hope that the Prime Minister delivers on his pledge today. But there needs to be a bit more of an understanding of the real issues involved first.

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