The Conservative Manifesto 2019 at page 23 states:
In order to help communities cope better with pressures on public services, we will ensure that new GP and school places are delivered ahead of people moving into new housing developments…
At Page 31 of the manifesto it states:
Infrastructure first. We will amend planning rules so that the infrastructure – roads, schools, GP surgeries – comes before people move into new homes.
Developments in New Romney, St Mary’s Bay, Hythe, Folkestone and out in the villages are progressing and will soon be ready for occupation. We suspect the promised GP’s will not be in place before the housing developments are finished and occupied.
The reality regarding GP’s is that you are waiting longer to secure an appointment to see him or her.
Folkestone & Hythe’s population is forecast to rise by nearly 13.1% over the next 20 years, reaching an estimated 126,100 by 2037, according to KCC.
This will mean we’ll need approx six new GP’s for the area just to meet demand. Of course this does NOT include retiring GP’s who will need to be replaced over this period.
We currently have 68 GPs (not including locums) to serve a population of 116,181 patients (Dec 2019) registered at the seventeen surgeries throughout our district. To serve a population of 126,100 we’ll need approx 75 GPs to serve the population.
Between now and 2036/37, the Council must build 13,284 homes, that’s 738 homes a year. Those who come to live in them will need GPs but as we know recruiting GP’s for our district is proving to be very difficult indeed.
Since 2015, the number of GPs has fallen. The most recent data shows that there were 26,941 qualified permanent GPs in England in June 2019 (excluding locums & trainees). This is 2.3% (628) lower than the estimated figure for June 2018, and 5.9% (1,689) lower than in September 2015.
In 2014 the then health secretary Jermey Hunt at the Conservative Party conference announced an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020. Patients were also promised weekend and 8 till 8 appointments. Neither of these promises are likely to be fulfilled locally or nationally. Recruiting GPs from abroad and retaining older ones has clearly failed.
The NHS will fail if general practice fails. And regardless of all the hype after the General Election about getting Brexit done, people consider this more important than their health, which is surprising, as the first wealth is health.
Finally, we’ll have to wait and see if Boris and his govt can deliver on his party’s manifesto promises about infrastructure first. Even if they can, will there be the GPs to fill the surgeries? On past promises the answer on the evidence currently available is a resounding NO.
The Shepwayvox Team
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