Andy Burnham has stated he is committed to improving the National Health Service in Enfield, as he set out how a Labour Government would safeguard the NHS and support and increase local and national access to primary care, during a visit to the Abernethy House GP Surgery in the borough.
The Shadow Health Secretary was joined by Joan Ryan, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Enfield North, on Tuesday 31st March to meet with the Surgery’s partners as well as representatives from Abernethy House’s patient participation group. An informed discussion took place regarding Labour’s plans for the NHS, the current challenges in primary care provision in Enfield and the cuts to Chase Farm Hospital, which saw its Accident and Emergency department and maternity unit closed by the Tory-led Government in 2013. Before the last election David Cameron visited Chase Farm and pledged to protect the A&E and maternity services. Andy Burnham said, "GP services have gone into freefall under this Government. I feel a sense of obligation to people here, one thing that really concerns me is hearing how those commitments made have not been honoured, Mr Cameron stood outside that hospital and made a pledge he had no intention of keeping and we are not going to do that.”
Mr Burnham talked about how the Tories health policies had led to a GP recruitment crisis, which was having serious consequences for patients and their ability to get a GP appointment. Patients would be guaranteed access to a GP within 48 hours under a Labour Government, the Shadow Health Secretary said, and Labour would recruit thousands more GPs, including 1,200 in London, by 2020 in order to alleviate the current pressures on GPs. “We must honour the promises of GP services and Enfield is massively under-doctored in primary care”, said Mr Burnham. “Enfield currently needs another 84 and has 167 at the moment, Enfield are the 17th worst hit clinical commissioning group [CCG] across the country.”
The NHS has been placed under great strain in Enfield over recent years. Along with the number of GP vacancies, 12 GP practices closed within the area of the Enfield CCG between 2010 and the summer of 2014. These issues have been compounded by the closure of Chase Farm Hospital’s A&E – local residents are finding it very difficult to access both GPs and emergency care. Praising Joan Ryan’s campaign to protect Chase Farm from further Tory cuts, Mr Burnham said he would be monitoring the situation at the Hospital – including its ongoing redevelopment plans - very closely. “We want to protect and build what has already been agreed and make sure that every penny from [land sales at] the site goes back into building it,” he said.
Joan Ryan, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Enfield North, said:
“Abernethy House Surgery is doing great work, in difficult circumstances, to help look after many Enfield residents.
I was delighted to welcome Andy to the constituency so that he had the opportunity to learn more about the pressing healthcare needs in the area and to speak to Abernethy House’s partners and patients about Labour’s vision for the NHS and primary care.
Our local health services have suffered greatly since 2010. We have seen a number of GP practices close, patient waiting times are up, and we have lost the A&E and maternity unit at Chase Farm Hospital. I am sure that many Enfield residents will be pleased that Andy is taking such a keen interest in the situation at Chase Farm and that he has called for money made from land sales at the site to be reinvested in the Hospital.
The NHS, both locally and nationally, cannot suffer another five years of the Tories in charge. Labour has a better plan for the National Health Service. Our commitment to recruit more GPs and guarantee patients a GP appointment within 48 hours will ensure that our NHS has the time and resources to care for the residents of Enfield.”