A doctor fighting “ruinous” proposed funding cuts at his own GP practice says health service staff are stressed and demoralised but determined to fight for the NHS.
Dr Paul Wilding, a GP at Slaithwaite Health Centre, told a packed public meeting in the village today that local campaigning had so far held off proposed 44% funding cuts which he claimed put the centre at “risk of extinction”.
“As a GP, if I had to put my finger on the pulse of the NHS in Huddersfield and the Colne Valley, it would really worry me. The pulse would be going very fast and it would be going faint at times. We are close to the endgame.”
He said threats to all services - from the ambulance service to social care - were very real. He said the system was “disjointed and fragmented”,
“How does it feel to be an NHS employee? I think the majority of the workforce are deeply stressed, demoralised and worried about the future. Yet the majority of NHS workers are passionate advocates for the NHS.”
Dr Wilding told the meeting of around 100 people that the proposed funding cut of 44% would be “ruinous” and would lead to the health centre closing “in its current form”.
Although the Greater Huddersfield Clinicial Commissioning Group had previously “backed down” from imposing the cuts, he said the plan was to push the cuts through from next month, which means the loss of jobs.
The GP claimed the CCG had failed to involve local patients in the consultation process and CCG bosses had previously warned staff not to tell anyone about the cuts.
On the national care crisis, he said: “We are in an unholy mess and don’t have a clear plan for health services and social care. If I had a magic wand I would ask politicians to come clean about how desperate the situation is. There is no honesty about how desperate things are.
“I think there is a role (in the NHS) for the private sector, for instance in back-office work and computing, etc, but politicians are never honest about the need for change.”
Colne Valley Lib Dem Clr Nicola Turner, who is also a student in the health service, called for a proper debate about the future of the health service and for more transparency about what the situation is.
Labour Clr Rob Walker said the crisis in social care funding was not being addressed.
“They have got to listen to us patients and have an honest discussion about the principles that health services should be based on.”
Martin Jones, chairman of Slaithwaite Health Centre SOS, said: “We are a small village with a big campaign and this is the biggest meeting of them all.”
He said the CCG, which did not send a representative, had requested a report of the meeting.