CONCERNS have been raised by Warrington North MP Helen Jones over why the town has fewer GPs per head than the north west average.
The MP claims the latest available figures found Warrington has 66 GPs per 100,000 population compared to nearly 68 for the north west.
Mrs Jones added: “Time after time, people here in Warrington tell me that they are concerned about the difficulties they are experiencing in obtaining GP appointments.
“It seems strange that Warrington has fewer GPs per head of the population than the north west as a whole.
“Fewer doctors means longer waiting times because they have more people to look after.”
She added she would be seeking further answers.
Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group designs how the local primary care system works.
Dr Andy Davies, chairman of Warrington CCG, said: “GPs are very hard pressed – that’s no different in Warrington compared to anywhere else in the country.
“We are seeing more demand on doctors surgeries every year.
“This is the result of an ageing population and a health system that has not really changed since the NHS was founded in 1947, despite GPs and practice nurses now providing much more complicated treatments for a wider range of conditions.
“Primary care is a key focus for the CCG and we are committed to improving access and outcomes through a range of improvements in our five year strategy.”
The NHS England area team are responsible for local GP commissioning but did not wish to comment.
The news follows Healthwatch Warrington coming under fire from Mrs Jones who claims the ‘consumer champion’ set up by the Government in April last year to represent the public’s views has ‘failed to link with the public or represent patients’.
The MP slammed the watchdog’s website claiming it only shows one survey from last year, has no upcoming events listed, includes videos for organisations that no longer exist and did not publish minutes of meetings.
She added: “Despite the promises made about engaging with the community and organising events, the local Healthwatch is clearly not working for patients and their families.
“It is very revealing that when Healthwatch came to a local parish council, they knew nothing about the difficulties people were having getting GP appointments in that area.
“This organisation is failing and needs a complete shake-up.”
Judith Guthrie, chairman of Warrington Healthwatch, acknowledged there had been IT and staffing difficulties which affected the website but a ‘fully advised service’ would be available soon.
She added: “It is very disappointing that our local MP Helen Jones has publicised her views without taking the time to contact either myself or any of the Healthwatch Board to discuss her concerns.
“Although we are a small organisation there is a great deal of work that is being undertaken for our communities including undertaking enter and view visits of health and social care premises to observe and assess the nature and quality of services and to obtain the views of the people using those services and advising the Care Quality Commission of any concerns regarding local services.
“The recently expanded Board is also currently undertaking a comprehensive review of our services…and wishes to particularly expand access for young people through social media routes.”
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