On Tuesday, Minehead’s one and only GP surgery closed temporarily, leaving 12,000 people without an NHS doctor.

Responding to the chaos as patients scrambled to find an alternative without notice, Rachel Gilmour, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Tiverton and Minehead believes she knows exactly where to lay the blame:

“It is absolutely correct that the Care Quality Commission stepped in to force action and protect patients from the risk of harm.  However, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the direct result of persistent and continued Government cuts to our precious NHS over a decade.  Cuts which the local, part time Conservative MP has supported time and time again.  Cuts which mean there was only one GP surgery supporting nearly 12,000 people.”

“As for the MPs response that he’s going to ‘ask the NHS for clarification’, rather than raising mayhem in the House of Commons and the corridors of Whitehall to demand action, this is too little too late.

“Nearly 20 years ago he first acknowledged that Somerset was short of GPs – and now Minehead is facing blackouts in GP coverage.  We need action, not more questions followed by yet more silence and delay.  This is a problem that has been building under his watch. It reveals how little he cares about the constituency he has been paid so handsomely to represent for far too long.

“The Conservative Government have run local health services into the ground, putting people, buildings and beds under immense pressure. With 112,000 staff vacancies in England alone, long waiting times, missed targets and poor outcomes, patient safety is being pushed into the danger zone.

“We know the UK does not have enough GPs, and the Government has failed to deliver on their own promise to recruit more by the start of this year. In fact, the opposite is true and we currently have the equivalent of 1,881 fewer fully qualified full-time GPs compared to 2015 with more are choosing to leave the profession every day.

“People are no longer confident that when they need medical help they can get it. When they ring 999 they don’t know if they will get the emergency treatment they need in time. Millions are waiting for treatment, unable to work, and in Minehead they woke up on Tuesday unable to access vital GP care.

“The Liberal Democrats have a plan to give everyone the right to see their GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if they urgently need to. To deliver on that right, we will train, recruit and retain more GPs and free up more of their time.  We need to invest in the public health and prevention that GPs are best placed to deliver so that fewer people get ill and need treatment in our already stretched hospitals.

“Just a week ago I explained that I am offended by the state of our NHS – I retract my statement: I am absolutely LIVID.

“The awful situation in Minehead left tens of thousands of constituents without access to a GP at a time of high seasonal need.  It is a direct consequence of years of Conservative mismanagement of the NHS. The Conservative MP can shout all he likes about making crisis calls to the NHS, but it is a crisis of his own making after decades of wilfully underfunding our local healthcare services.”

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