It’s a difficult balance – many surgeries are integral to the vaccine rollout; GPs have to be Covid compliant when they patients and there was a chronic shortage of doctors before the pandemic struck.
But it has become clear that some serious ailments are going untreated as a consequence of this ‘perfect storm’ and the efficient running of the NHS depends on fully functional GP surgeries – both to diagnose illnesses and to refer patients to the most appropriate health experts.
And this is particularly pertinent in Yorkshire’s coastal and rural communities where the health needs of an ageing population are clearly being compromised by a reluctance of doctors to work in such areas in spite of significant financial inducements.
No wonder the NHS is at risk of becoming overwhelmed in towns like Scarborough and Bridlington where the issue of recruitment was recently highlighted by Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, in a hard-hitting report.
Put simply, the pressures being experienced by health staff, and the care available to patients, will continue to become a self-perpetuating vicious circle unless the NHS addresses the underlying factors. Only then will it be in a position, under the leadership of new NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard, to put in place a strategy to help improve care along the coast.
For, while it is understandable that the most specialist services are centralised at major hospitals like York and Hull, new ways need to be found for routine treatment to be provided in local communities, like coastal towns, before the NHS is left facing an even greater medical emergency.
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