Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, expressed his anger at the news that NHS England has created a fund to prevent the closure of GP surgeries in areas of high deprivation – just weeks after the closure of a GP surgery in Skelton and the announcement of a closure of another surgery in Middlesbrough’s Park End.
The news came after as many as 100 GP surgeries around the country have been threatened with closure in recent months after the Government announced changes to the way GPs are to be funded.
In an apparent admission that the plans would disproportionately affect areas with high levels of deprivation, NHS authorities have offered financial support to surgeries whose patient populations have an index of multiple deprivation score above 35 – a Government measure of poverty rates.
“I am seething with anger at this announcement. Proposals like this do not come out of the blue and I have a deep suspicion that the axe was taken to the Skelton and Park End surgeries at a time when NHS bosses knew such a fund was being set up. Park End, and large parts of Skelton suffer from deprivation, and the use of this fund could have kept both alive and serving their communities and patients.
“I will be asking question of Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, in the Commons when it returns after the summer recess. This is both bad planning and bad practice and I will be demanding that NHS England comes clean about why this fund was not considered suitable for Skelton and Park End. I will also be demanding that the use of this fund is looked at in the consultation work on the future the latest threatened surgery in my constituency, Hemlington surgery.”