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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Barrow Super-surgery ‘could play key role in survival of GP services’

A LEADING doctor says a planned super-surgery could play a key role in the survival of traditional GP services.

It comes following a warning from the Royal College of GPs that general practice across the UK is “under severe threat of extinction”.

The body’s president, Dr Maureen Baker, said a funding crisis and increased demand for care could threaten the sustainability of the NHS, revealing how some surgeries are already closing due to a lack of staff.

The Department of Health said it recognised the vital job GPs do. But the RCGP said general practice, which receives only 8.39 per cent of the NHS budget, is under increasing pressure.

Locally, Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s lead GP for Furness, Dr Geoff Jolliffe, said while a crisis is not “imminent”, it is a real risk. He said: “People worry about hospital care but 90 per cent of the time they get their medical care in primary care, and they don’t always see the difficulties that we face.

“The number one thing people are saying nationally is ‘I can’t get to see my GP’.

“That’s because services are stretched. There are some real threats.”

Dr Jolliffe believes a new super-surgery planned for Barrow has a major part to play in the survival of local services.

The £20m complex, to be built on the site of the old Alfred Barrow School, aims to bring Barrow’s GP surgeries together along with a wide range of other community services.

The idea is to create a set-up whereby patients can get everything they need in one place, and it is hoped there may be potential for the building of an on-site pharmacy.

Dr Jolliffe said: “We think we can sustain general practice and get good general practice, but it has to change quite dramatically. The building will be part of that transformation.

“It will be a key element because it will allow integration of services. It will allow GPs to work more closely with district nurses, with physiotherapists, with pharmacists and with each other. They will be able to work together and there is strength in size. By coming together, we will have more capacity to meet the demand.”

All Barrow’s GP surgeries have been invited to express an interest in moving to the new site.

Many practices are said to be operating from sites that are too small and not up to standard, while the new purpose-built surgery will be created with potential for further expansion at a later date.

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