Orton Medical Practice Closure “A Gross Insult”

07:55 Wednesday 12th October 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The Orton Medical Practice has become the first casualty of NHS Peterborough’s cutbacks on GP surgeries. NHS Peterborough is looking to save £4 million over the next five years, and says services need to be improved. The surgery, where a protest was held last week by angry patients, will shut its doors on December 9th, and 3,500 patients will have to register elsewhere. Peter Whiteman is Director of Primary Care at NHS Peterborough, and says the neighbouring Orton Bushfield surgery will be able to cope with that number of patients. (TAPE)
PETER WHITEMAN: It could take all of the 3,500 patients, if they chose to register with Orton Bushfield. But we also expect people to choose to go to Nene Valley Medical Centre in Orton Malbourne, or to the surgery in Botolph Bridge. And we’ll be writing to every patient this week, to describe all the surgeries that they could choose to register with, and we’re holding an open evening on 2nd November, when patients can come and meet their potential surgeries and doctors and choose which surgery to register with. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well let’s speak to Bernard Barker. He’s a patient at the Orton Medical Practice. Bernard, good morning.
BERNARD BARKER: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Thank you for coming on this morning. So you’re at the Orton Medical Practice at the moment. Peter says it’s not such a big deal. You can just nip along to the Bushfield Surgery.
BERNARD BARKER: Yes. Absolutely brilliant. We found out in the paper yesterday. There’s been no contact with patients at all by NHS Peterborough. 3,700 of us have been dumped with no doctor, no local access to primary health care, and no communication from the health trust about how that’s going to happen. All our doctors are withdrawing from working for NHS Peterborough, so none of our doctors will be there. There are lots of disadvantaged, sick and immobile people who live in Orton and use this practice, and they’re now deprived of the doctors who’ve cared for them. All the support staff and administrative staff and nurses at the practice, they’re all discontinued with effect from 9th December. We found out yesterday in the media. This is a gross insult to the people of Orton, with serious consequences for the health and welfare of all of us.
PAUL STAINTON: I take it you’re not happy then.
BERNARD BARKER: How can one be happy? My wife had cancer last year. She’s currently suffering from a serious inner ear infection and has been flat on her back for a fortnight. I’m among the many frightened and anxious people in Peterborough who have been totally disregarded by the health service. David Cameron said he was passionate about the health service. If this is the fruit of his passion, God help the rest of us.
PAUL STAINTON: But David Cameron has also said that people have more of a say in all of this. You’ve had a protest. You’ve tried to have a say.
BERNARD BARKER: We’ve had no replies at all from Shailesh Vara, our local MP. His attitude is it’s all fine. The NHS Trust has got a consultation it had with us that stalled. But that hasn’t stopped it shutting down an entire practice in a seriously disadvantaged area in order to save money. Mr. Cameron said he was protecting the NHS. The reality is £20 billion is being taken out. The hospital is going to be almost half empty because of the lack of funds. We are in dire straits in Peterborough, and we need to protest in large numbers against this dismantling of publicly funded health service.
PAUL STAINTON: What I was trying to say was there has been a protest. They’ve ignored you is what you’re saying.
BERNARD BARKER: Well there was no contact with us at all. We were protesting in fear of what was going to happen, and almost at once we get the news that actually, it has been closed, with effect from 9th December. This is, what, eight weeks away? What’s the value of our health to the bureaucrats and people who are now taking the NHS to pieces in Peterborough? We’ve got the City Hospital that’s sat there with the Private Finance Initiative, that’s going to keep it in debt for goodness knows how long. Are we going to have access to procedures? Are we going to be cared for? This is desperately serious for the people of Peterborough. People of my age, retired people, pensioners, sick people, disadvantaged people and quite frankly ordinary families and their children, we have now no guarantee that we shall be looked after. And I hold this Government personally responsible for putting in jeopardy our health. And the idea that we’re all suddenly going to switch to another practice and sign up with them, when there is no plan in place whatsoever to provide primary health care, no nurses, no procedures, two doctors who are suddenly supposed to cope with twice as many people as they had in the first place. Maybe they’ll take on a few more part-time doctors, but they won’t be the doctors who’ve cared for us, all of whom are not included in the new scheme.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you feel helpless, Bernard?
BERNARD BARKER: I don’t feel I belong in this country any more. It’s being run in the interests of very rich people, public school educated people. The ordinary people of this country are now being spurned and dumped and disregarded, and they can’t even have the decency to tell us what the decision of that consultation is. They promised at the time of consultation that we’d be informed about the outcome. There is no outcome, except that we learn by a backdoor route that actually, it’s closing anyway, 9th December. Earlier in the year they lied to us. They said, oh well, we won’t do it if the consultation goes that way. 1347 people voted against this procedure, and they’re doing it anyway. I have nothing but contempt for these people, but in some ways I’ve got sympathy, because it all comes down to money. £20 billion being removed from the NHS by a Tory-led Government that’s got nothing in its mind except cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts. And none of those Tory MPs themselves really have much connection with the NHS, but are desperate for their private healthcare friends and companies to have their hands on the spoils, and leave us patients vulnerable and ill.
PAUL STAINTON: Bernard, we will put a call in with Shailesh Vara, the MP for that part of Peterborough, in the next hour of the show, and we’ll try and get him on to respond to some of the things that you’ve said. Bernard, very upset as you can imagine, and the feelings are replicated apparently, 1347 people across that area of Peterborough very unhappy that their surgery is closing at the Orton Medical Practice. And you heard from Bernard there, very very passionate about the services that they’re losing, and the way they’ve been dealt with.