We are extremely lucky to have the General Practitioners we do in Herefordshire. A doctor’s surgery is a hallowed place in every community in the UK. But it is especially so in a large, sparsely populated and under-funded border county such as ours.
Our GPs do great work, they co-operate closely together, and they are innovative and creative in meeting the needs of local people. So we need to pay attention when our GPs say, as many are now saying, that they want to make improvements to local services.
The Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), led by the widely respected Dr Ian Tait, consists of 24 GP practices across the county. It is responsible for planning and commissioning a wide range of healthcare services. After 1 April 2017 these services will include urgent and emergency care, including out-of-hours services; planned, non-emergency hospital care; rehabilitation care; mental health and learning disability services; most community health services, and GP services.
The CCG is now running a public consultation on proposals it has made for GP services in Hereford city. I would strongly encourage as many readers as possible to take part in it.
At the heart of the new proposals is the desire to improve access, especially south of the river, and to make better use of a set of overlapping facilities across the city. These include the GP Centre next to the ASDA store in South Wye; the Moorfield House branch surgery on Ross Road; and the current seven-day service at Wargrave House on St Owen Street.
The CCG is also proposing a big drive to encourage and help Herefordians to register with a GP practice, with special consideration given to those who may find that process difficult or daunting.
The full consultation and questionnaire are available online at the following link:www.herefordshireccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/seven-day-services.
A paper version will also be available from all GP practices across Herefordshire from the middle of next week. The consultation period will end on 24th April.
Finally, the CCG is holding four public meetings on the proposals.
The first are between 3-5 pm and 6-8 pm at the Kindle Centre on Wednesday 15th March, with two more at the same times at Hereford Town Hall on Wednesday 29th March.
Like any suggested changes to our health care, these proposals will be closely scrutinised. I would encourage all readers to consider them closely, and give their feedback.