Suffolk doctors' surgery leads by example

DOCTORS' surgeries across Suffolk should follow the lead of a small rural practice which has kept its own out-of-hours care, it was claimed last night.

Elliot Furniss

DOCTORS' surgeries across Suffolk should follow the lead of a small rural practice which has kept its own out-of-hours care, it was claimed last night.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo said the traditional system operated by Bildeston Health Centre had proved a great success and avoided the pitfalls under the out-of-hours system used in the rest of the county.

Dr Mark Hainsworth from Bildeston said patients were very happy with the “unique” service they had been receiving, which includes an “open access” morning surgery for people who do not need to make appointments.

He said: “The more impersonal a service becomes, the more people are likely to abuse it. We believe that part of the service we provide should involved trust, access and responsiveness - but it's getting hard to do that because the nature of general practises has changed.

“Patients are very pleased with the service but unfortunately, whether we can continue to provide it is a moot point. We're under just as much pressure to provide a different service through the day that is more aligned to long-term illnesses.”

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Suffolk recently sacked its out-of-hours provider, Take Care Now, after alarming revelations about the service.

It has also emerged that at times just two GPs are routinely on call out of hours to cover the majority of the county's population.

A new company will shortly take over the contract and more money is set to be spent providing additional staff, but many feel a return to the traditional system is needed.

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