First published in Huddersfield Daily Examiner here
“I’m angry at David Cameron’s snub to Kirklees which means thousands of patients here will continue to see their difficulty in getting a doctor’s appointment only get worse"
Kirklees patients will not benefit from any of the government’s £50m fund to boost GP availability after the region missed out on the cash.
Huddersfield health chiefs admitted they were “disappointed” to receive nothing following a successful trial of Saturday opening over the winter.
The move – designed to relieve the pressure on the embattled A&E unit at HRI – was also adopted by North Kirklees and Calderdale surgeries after a one-off emergency winter cash injection from the NHS was dished out to all areas.
Dr Judith Parker, GP Governing Body member for NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG, said: “GP practices in Greater Huddersfield did submit bids for the challenge funding but were, unfortunately, not successful.
“This is disappointing, but we will look forward to the learnings from the projects being trialled across the country and will continue to work collectively to improve GP access for local people.”
Opposition politicians have attacked the decision to split the cash between just 20 health commissioners.
A total of 1,000 GP practices will benefit from funding to increase opening hours and weekend working – but Wakefield was the only area in West Yorkshire to be selected.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury, healthcare worker Paula Sherriff, said: “I’m angry at David Cameron’s snub to Kirklees which means thousands of patients here will continue to see their difficulty in getting a doctor’s appointment only get worse.
“People across Kirklees already often have to wait far too long to see their doctor.
“When they heard the government say it had plans to rectify this they’ll have been relieved, but now we discover that David Cameron’s not going to spend a penny of that £50m on us.
“This government has removed the guarantee of a GP’s appointment within 48 hours implemented by the last Labour government and has cut the funding for surgeries to stay open later.
“Before today there were 854 fewer GP practices in England, including in the Dewsbury area, offering extended opening hours than there were in 2010, yet the government has ignored our district in announcing this fund.”
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “David Cameron’s plan contains nothing for the vast, vast majority of people across Yorkshire - for them, things will carry on getting worse.
“They are being told to expect to wait a week for a GP appointment.
“People already know from their own experience that it has got much harder to get a GP appointment under David Cameron. He has left people ringing surgeries early in the morning only to be told there is nothing is available for days.”