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Winter health crisis: the tip of the iceberg for Maidstone residents

March 2, 2017 11:20 PM
By Emily Fermor

One in three West Kent GPs and nurses set to retire by 2020

A report by Emily Fermor, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Maidstone & The Weald Emily Fermor

The long-anticipated, and much-feared, winter crisis in our health service has dominated the headlines recently. Locally this is the tip of the iceberg. For residents in Maidstone, GP services are no longer fit for purpose.Increasing demand for primary care in our borough has caused an agonising and growing problem for years now. Many have relayed to me how they are unable to get appointments, and for people moving homes, joining a local practice has been near impossible. I found out more at a recent meeting of the West Kent Health and Wellbeing Board, where they discussed NHS, social care and public health where we live. I was taken aback by the severe shortage of GPs in West Kent. And from what I heard, the problem will only get worse.
A local GP told me that the demand for GPs in West Kent is rising, but young doctors are not joining the profession to fill the vacancies - they're even training locally, but not staying here. More worrying is that a third of all current GPs and nurses will be retired by 2020. So Mrs May's latest demand that GP surgeries should be open for longer hours is frankly ridiculous.
This all means that residents are missing out on a continuity of care which is a huge failing. The situation has been brushed under the carpet for too long. It needs immediate action, joined-up thinking, and planning for the long-term