Care crisis looms as doctors shun Burnley

MP for Burnley Julie Cooper (s)
MP for Burnley Julie Cooper (s)
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  • Government announced £22bn cuts to NHS in June
  • MP claims GPs moving to Australia and America
  • Health chiefs report many Burnley GP vacancies unfilled
  • Constituents report difficulties getting appointments

Burnley is heading for a care crisis as health chiefs are finding it increasingly difficult to attract new doctors and consultants to the area.

Burnley MP Julie Cooper spoke of her fears this week after the chief of East Lancashire CCG told her many Burnley doctor vacancies are unfilled.

GPs are on the front line and they get into the profession because they are caring people, but they have to ration that care

Julie Cooper MP

She claims cuts to the National Health Service are piling pressure on overworked GPs and making it harder for Burnley and Padiham patients to get appointments.

The Labour MP believes such pressures deter doctors from working in Britain and encourages them to work abroad.

As well as the shortage of GPs, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is also finding it increasingly difficult to recruit consultants.

“There are too many stories of people being passed from pillar to post,” said Mrs Cooper.

“A lot of people come to me with complaints – not because of the GP – but because of the difficulties in getting an appointment to see anybody, and when they finally get one it is with someone they have never seen before.

“GPs are on the front line and they get into the profession because they are caring people, but they have to ration that care.

“They have an absolutely impossible task here. Instead they move to countries like Australia and America because they are better treated and better respected.”

Mrs Cooper slammed the Conservative government over cuts to the health service, claiming they do not realise the extent of the problems faced by NHS staff and patients.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced £22bn in cuts to the NHS in June to clamp down on excessive spending on agency staff. Mr Hunt proposed this would help fulfil the government’s election promise to pledge £8bn a year to the service.

But Mrs Cooper feels the government are out of touch and unaware of the effect of their health policies.

“The government don’t seem to realise the savings they are making is inevitably going to make this worse,” she said.

“The first step in solving any problem is to acknowledge there is one, but the government is just turning a blind eye to it.”

Mrs Cooper pledged to keep “banging on the drum” about the NHS on behalf of her constituents.

“I am too proud of the NHS to let it wither on the vine,” she said.

A shortage of consultants across East Lancashire is another area of concern and this could lead to the centralisation of more services such as the recent transfer of Burnley’s fracture clinic to Blackburn.