Biggleswade councillors 'anxious' over GP provision in town - with practice managers invited to meet with town council to discuss plans
"We're all paying into the system, but nobody is getting value for money from it or getting any accountability"
The mayor of Biggleswade says the shortage of GPs presents the case for a shake-up of the NHS nationally, which "isn't terribly well managed".
Madeline Russell told a town council meeting the NHS is weighed down by bureaucracy.
"The universities can train more doctors, but the NHS won't provide the practical experience they need to go on and qualify," she explained.
"That's one of the reasons why the NHS needs to be sorted out. When you've universities saying we can provide more spaces for medical students, they can't become doctors without that experience on the wards.
"That somehow can't be provided when we're screaming for doctors, while importing them from overseas isn't necessarily a good thing for the countries they come from.
"It really is a case for pushing all the way nationally for the NHS to be shaken up."
During the public open session, a local resident Mr Reynolds expressed concern at the current lack of medical provision in the town.
"I don't think doing nothing is an option because I'm telling you now the whole system will collapse in 18 months' time without some action," he warned.
"I'd like to think the town council will raise this with Central Beds Council on an urgent basis."
The mayor replied: "I can assure you everyone around this table is as anxious as you are about this situation with GPs.
"We should have a health and social care hub site with extra GPs and medical services. The other issue is a national one because there just aren't enough GPs.
"Our MP Richard Fuller is anxious that the NHS is looked at properly and that there are better structures put in place and it's better managed.
"Everyone knows the front line staff work wonderfully in hospitals and elsewhere, but there's an awful lot of bureaucracy and it isn't terribly well managed.
"We'll continue to do everything we can to raise the issues locally."
Councillor Jonathan Woodhead said: "The issue of Covid and the demand on healthcare locally is an additional pressure we can't underestimate and then there's the growth in the area.
"In the next few weeks we want to invite the practice managers from Ivel Medical Centre and Saffron Health Partnership to a town council meeting to ask them what their plans are around Covid.
"I've not met a single resident who's happy with the way this has all been handled. It's the way they're choosing to run their surgeries.
"That's not a medical point around treatment. It's the way the practices are run. We need to get to the bottom of that.
"We're all paying into the system, but nobody is getting value for money from it or getting any accountability.
"We need them to talk to us. It's very pressing," he added. "People may be surprised to know there are 14,000 people on the books at Ivel Medical Centre.
"It's not just people in the town. There are residents from the villages as well, so extra pressures from outside."
Councillor Duncan Strachan said: "Another issue which is serious, it doesn't matter how many surgeries we have if the doctors aren't there to service them.
"The shortage of doctors and nurses in this country is a major issue and something needs to be done to address that.
"We can have all the beautiful buildings in the world, but we're no better off."
Councillors agreed to invite the medical practices and senior partners to a town council meeting to discuss the situation.
SOURCE: Biggleswade Town Council (Oct 12th) meeting.