Shadow Health Secretary pledges action to protect local GP surgeries‏

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Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary today joined Labour councillors, John Biggs AM and Jim Fitzpatrick MP to visit the Jubilee St GP Practice in Shadwell which is threatened with closure as a result of Government cuts.

During the visit Burnham pledged his support for the practice and said he would work to make sure that the Government backed down on their planned cuts which will see 98 GP surgeries across the country closed. Burnham also used the visit to launch a new NHS campaign advert van highlighting Ed Miliband’s pledge that a Labour Government would guarantee patients an appointment at their local GP within 48 hours.

The visit came only hours before local MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, secured a House of Commons debate on the cuts where he quizzed ministers on their reasons behind the decision.

The visit presents a real boost to Labour’s high profile campaign against the changes with the Andy Burnham promising to take up the issue directly with the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham said:

“The fact the Government wants to close GP surgeries like the excellent Jubilee St Practice clearly shows why you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.

“Whilst Labour are pledging to guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours, the Tories are intent on closing successful GP practices. Nothing says it clearer.

“I have been impressed with Labour’s local campaign against these closures. I will raise this issue with Jeremy Hunt directly, but in the meantime what the people of Tower Hamlets need is to elect John Biggs as mayor so he can continue his work to protect the borough from the worst excesses of this Tory-led Government.”

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Rachael Saunders, said:

“Andy Burnham’s visit has added a great boost to our campaign to save these surgeries. With his help we have a real opportunity to get these cuts reversed and to safeguard the future of the GP practices that thousands of patients rely upon.”

Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:

"We need a strong campaign to highlight this terrible threat and the government must be persuaded to see sense."

Speaking after the visit Jubilee St Practice Manager, Virginia Patania, said:

“Meeting with Andy Burnham in our practice reception, on a busy Tuesday morning, was a precious opportunity to state our case. We were able to highlight not only our financial case, but show evidence around our outcomes, trends and forecasts. Andy and Liz took a real interest in our cause, and we very much value the time they took to speak to staff and patients.

“We wish this to be not a tale of woe but a success story uninterrupted by the technical flaws of a policy where deprived practices happen to suffer unexpected yet devastating effects of the government’s recent funding formula. Our objective is to present our problem and solutions to the Secretary of State for Health, and we feel confident that Andy Burnham’s support and interest in our case will help us achieve this. So that we can continue to provide excellent clinical care and access for another 70 years to come.”

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