MP Jim Fitzpatrick, councillors and Labour candidate for Mayor John Biggs today handed a letter to the Health Secretary’s office demanding an urgent meeting to address the proposed cuts to GP surgeries in Tower Hamlets.
The letter, which is co-signed by local GPs who could see their surgeries closed by the cuts, describes the NHS England decision as “shocking” and goes on to state that combined with “deep cuts made to local authority budgets you are left with declining services in areas where social and health inequalities are already deeply ingrained.”
The letter came after a weekend of intense action from Labour councillors and activists protesting against the changes. There were rallies at markets across the borough including, Crisp Street, Watney Market, Roman Road and Brick Lane with hundreds of people objecting to the potential health service cuts. The action was complimented by a growing social media campaign with residents sharing their views by using the hashtag #SaveOurGPs.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Rachael Saunders, said:
“We have written to Jeremy Hunt to demand an urgent meeting because it is wrong that GP surgeries in Tower Hamlets are at risk of closure, whilst resources to Tory heartlands are increased"
"The people of Tower Hamlets need our local NHS. It is no surprise that residents, GPs and politicians are up in arms.
Labour Candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
“I am still hoping that the Secretary of State doesn’t understand the impact of this policy, which will be catastrophic for our area. As mayor I will lead the fight but this is so urgent we must campaign immediately and use every means to reverse this foolish decision. My hope is that the Minister is smart enough to realise this is a serious error, and to instruct that this policy is reversed.”
Virginia Patania, Practice Manager and Partner at the Jubilee Street Practice, said:
“The removal of deprivation based financial compensation is one of the factors forcing the Jubilee Street Practice and others to consider closure. Tower Hamlets population is largely sicker and more deprived than the national average, with more complex conditions and co-morbidities. Loss of GP services would mean less GP access, less clinical safety, lower patient satisfaction, potentially higher mortality and missed diagnoses, and higher use of hospital services such as A&E. It is our wish to discuss a number of potential solutions with the Secretary of State for Health, including a revision of the Carr Hill formula to include the direct recognition of deprivation, or the devolvement of local budgets to financially support the practices most affected by the recent changes."