Cut backs affecting GP surgeries

CUTBACKS in health funding could sound the death knell for the traditional family doctor in Suffolk, it has been warned.GPs have said many surgeries in the county could be forced to change the way they care for patients due to financial constraints.

CUTBACKS in health funding could sound the death knell for the traditional family doctor in Suffolk, it has been warned.

GPs have said many surgeries in the county could be forced to change the way they care for patients due to financial constraints.

One practice has already told patients that nurses will start prescribing drugs and assessing those with acute problems.

It comes after health bosses scrapped the contract governing the majority of doctors in the region. Health professionals fear any new contract will see a substantial drop in funding to provide patient care.

The Martlesham Heath Surgery warned patients it would have to restructure its services due to “a significant cut” in funding.

A letter, signed by doctors Andrew Schurr, Anne Fitzgerald and Walter Tobias, said working patterns would change this month and the “doctor contingent” would be reduced.

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Experienced, highly-trained nurses would assess all acute conditions reported on the day, supported by a duty doctor “in situations which demand it either clinically or because requested by the nurses”.

But they said the new system would free up a doctor to see routine appointments, which could be booked in advance, although they would still be able to book an appointment with their preferred doctor.

But Dr Janet Massey, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the British Medical Association, said: “Allowing nurses to be involved in the assessment and treatment of minor illnesses and injuries under supervision of doctors in General Practice is not new. This works well if the nurse is competent, confident and well-supported within the practice team.

“Patients may always ask to be seen by a General Practitioner if they have concerns.”

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