Sidmouth doctor speaks out over struggling GPs and lack of extra funding

Dr Ed Morris from the Sid Valley Practice, (right) who is retiring after more than 30 years of servi

Dr Ed Morris from the Sid Valley Practice, (right) who is retiring after more than 30 years of service. Dr Morris is pictured with Dr. Joe Stych, his replacement. - Credit: Archant

A struggling Sid Valley GP surgery missed out on extra funding after it all went into secondary care, prompting a Sidmouth doctor to speak out.

Doctor Joe Stych, a practice partners at Sid Valley Practice, has voiced his frustration after a funding bid was denied to redevelop Blackmore Health Centre which was rated as ‘unfit-for-purpose’, by regulators the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Dr Stych said Sidmouth GPs had been working hard on a plan to future proof GP services in Sidmouth for the last two years.

The latest setback follows the disappointment in 2016-17 when a plan to buy and redevelop the centre was turned down.

Dr Stych said a plan to extend the Beacon Medical Centre and move GP services from Blackmore Health Centre to Sidmouth Victoria Hospital was proposed, helping support the hospital’s medical Ward.

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He added: “It was ranked by Devon CCG as the third highest priority project for funding needed locally, but it was overlooked.

“Funding went to the first, second, fifth and eighth ranked projects.

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“All funding in Devon has gone to secondary care.

“No funding has been assigned to struggling GPs.

“It is ludicrous that this scheme has been unsuccessful. It makes no sense to me.

“It would increase capacity and improve patient care at the same time as saving the NHS money.

“The overall scheme cost was small at £1.3million but would have made a huge difference.”

Dr Stych said the Government had since revealed its ‘10 year plan’ for the NHS with focus on moving more work out of hospitals into GPs and the community.

He added: “Without the infrastructure to support existing health services, let alone an expansion into the community, even more challenging times lay ahead.

“The reality is that we are already working at capacity and have no room to expand.

“We are already limited in what we can achieve by space constraints.”

He said the practice has an enthusiastic team with GPs in extended roles, operating on skin cancer and performing carpal tunnel operations so patients do not have to travel to Exeter.

They are involved in research to offer new and developing treatments to patients and train medical students and junior doctor.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The latest round of funding applications were highly competitive and the funding was prioritised on the strength of bids received from local NHS teams.

“The Devon STP (Sustainability and Transformation Partnership) will benefit from more than £50million to transform services for patients.”

The spokesman added that the funding was not allocated proportionally but on the strength of bids received.

Each was evaluated against six criteria – deliverability, service and demand management, transformation and patient benefit, financial sustainability, value for money and estates.

The Devon funding will go towards University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust - with £29.7million going to transforming urgent and emergency care, £9.3million to Devon imaging facilities and £3.5million to digital histopathology.

A further £8million was given to Devon Partnership NHS Trust for adult acute mental health service across Devon.

The spokesman said: “GPs are the bedrock of the NHS, and the ‘long term plan’ makes clear our commitment to the future of GPs, with primary and community care set to receive £4.5billion more in real terms a year by 2023/24.

“Last year a record 3,473 doctors were recruited into GP training and the new five year contract for GPs will see 20,000 more staff working in GP practices – helping free up doctors to spend more time with the patients who need them.”

A spokesman for the NHS in Devon said: “The Sidmouth scheme was a high priority for the Devon Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and we are still working with the practice and our partners to explore other options.”

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