Health secretary responds to concerns about issues in Ipswich

Jeremy Hunt with Ben Gummer at Ipswich Hospital.

Jeremy Hunt with Ben Gummer at Ipswich Hospital. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has insisted that a Conservative government would protect healthcare in Ipswich after his visit to the town’s hospital during the election campaign.

He was unable to speak to us because of time issues during the visit, but agreed to answer questions we submitted by e-mail.

We asked about the falling number of full-time GPs in Suffolk, and the fear that many currently in practice are due to retire over the next few years.

Mr Hunt said: “We do need more GPs in Suffolk and many other parts of the country. We have over 1,600 more nationally than in 2010 but have set out plans to recruit an additional 5,000 GPs in the next parliament.

“The Five Year Forward View, the NHS’ own plan which is fully funded and backed by the Conservative Party, commits to a new deal for general practice – increasing funding, improving premises (we recently launched a £1billion Primary Care Infrastructure Fund announced at Autumn Statement 2014), and recruiting 5,000 more GPs.

“The Royal College of GPs are working with us to recruit and retain GPs and they themselves say that this is the best time in a generation to become a GP. They will be at the heart of the new NHS and I believe this will support increasing numbers.”

The health secretary was impressed by Ipswich Hospital, and insisted it would have the funds it needed to maintain its “Good” rating from the Care Quality Commission.

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Mr Hunt was asked about the decision to close the Minor Injuries Unit at the Riverside Clinic three years ago – before he took over the role.

He said he had not been health secretary when it closed but he would be prepared to make further inquiries about the process.

However he said he would be guided by advice from local doctors who are trying to improve services for patients.

He added: “Walk-in centres play an important role but where the local clinical commissioners know they can use the resources better (for example by moving those doctors or centres into a hospital A&E) they should be free to do so if it will improve the services patients receive.”

For a full list of candidates standing in the Ipswich constituency, visit the Ipswich Star website at

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