Council joins save our surgeries campaign

Staff and patients of Egton surgery gather outside in protest to the proposed cuts''w132512k
Staff and patients of Egton surgery gather outside in protest to the proposed cuts''w132512k

A committee of councillors responsible for looking after the health and wellbeing of residents has pledged its support for a campaign to save the Esk Valley’s surgeries from funding cuts.

The borough council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee met last week to discuss plans by the government to withdraw the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee.

The proposed funding cuts which are due to start in April, will be phased in over seven years and will see Egton surgery lose £70,000, Danby lose £60,000 a year and Sleights £40,000 per year of its annual income.

Doctor Julian Fester from Egton surgery gave a presentation to councillors about how the loss of funding will affect them, which has sparked petitions from angry patients across the Esk Valley against the proposals.

He told councillors: “I don’t think we can lose this amount of money without substantial cuts in the services we provide.

“The largest expense in all practices is staff - the most expensive being the doctor.

“In Egton, we can’t save £70,000 without losing a doctor.”

He added patients will have to travel further to be seen and there will be less appointments available, adding: “We have a culture of visiting elderly patients due to poor transport on the moor, but our ability to do this will be reduced in the future.”

He also said: “Unless we look at radical changes to the way services are delivered, we will find individual practices such as Egton may have their viability threatened.”

Coun David Jeffels, chairman of the committee, said: “A key issue is that patients will have to travel further and transport in the Esk Valley is not good - it’s virtually nonexistent.

“We need to look at protecting our residents in that area, especially the elderly and young families.”

Coun Guy Coulson said he saw the proposals as an “infringement on people’s human rights for equal medical care everywhere”.

Coun Alf Abbott said he was concerned about the potential impact on those living at Botton village, who attend a regular surgery at Egton while coun David Billing said the proposals were“absolutely barmy”.

Coun Jeffels said the committee will write to local MPs and the health secretary adding: “We’re right behind you and will do all we possibly can.”