Recently, I have been raising the importance of getting primary care and GP services in our area back to normal. It is important primary care in Stoke-on-Trent receives the support it needs to fully recover face to face appointments and other health services to pre-COVID levels.
A number of my constituents have contacted me to raise difficulties they are having with accessing GP services and face to face appointments. I raised with the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care recently the need for more support to help these services recover. It is vital people locally are able to seek medical support and advice when they need it.
In the House of Commons I said:
"Primary Care has shouldered the brunt of vaccine deployment and many GP surgeries in Stoke-on-Trent South are not yet back to full capacity with general appointments.
A number of my constituents have raised the difficulties in getting to see their GP so will my honourable friend do all he can to ensure our primary care services are able to fully recover."
As well as raising my concerns in the House of Commons, I also wrote to the Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group. I was informed that in May the demand on General Practices was in fact 8% higher than it was before the pandemic. This has only been exacerbated by those who have had treatment delayed or put off seeking medical advice due to the pandemic.
The rapid deployment of vaccines has also predominantly been led by our local community health services with GPs, local nurses and pharmacists who have been doing an outstanding job. Now over 88% of adults have received their first jab and over 73% their second. It is very positive to hear that 16 and 17 year olds will also now be offer COVID vaccinations. This world leading vaccination programme and the protection it has offered against serious illness has meant we have been able to fully lift legal restriction on our daily lives, despite high case levels.
It remains vitally important if you have yet to have yours to book an appointment now and don’t forget that second jab which gives the maximum possible protection. The revelation by the Royal Stoke this week that 26 out of 28 patients in critical care had not been vaccinated should be a wake-up call to anyone yet get their jabs.
I was also very concerned to see the recent poor rating received by Meir Park and Weston Coyney Medical Practice. Meir Park surgery has continually attracted an extremely poor rating, with an ‘inadequate’ CQC inspection last September and after being taken into special measures in 2019. It is very disappointing to see that residents are not receiving the service expected and I have written directly to the Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group to raise this matter.
I am pleased to see the North Staffordshire GP Federation will now be taking over the running of these services, giving patients the confidence change is happening. I look forward to rapid improvements being made by the GP Federation in taking on these services and I hope to see decisive action from the Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group, taking all necessary steps to further improve services across Stoke-on-Trent South.
On a brighter note, it is fantastic to see the progress being made with the new Longton Primary Care Centre. I was pleased to hear that the opening of the Longton South Primary Care Centre will take place in September. For the last few years, I have been campaigning hard for Longton to have the improved health services we need, this is the first phase of improvements now opening and I look forward to further supporting the next phase which will bring additional walk-in NHS services all onto one site.
I would like to end by thanking all those working in our NHS and care services who have repeatedly gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic. One way for MPs to show our appreciation to those working in our local NHS services is through the NHS Parliamentary Awards.
I was pleased to attend the 2021 NHS Parliamentary Awards a few weeks ago with Dr Andrew Davy from the Medical Assistant Team, Royal Stoke University Hospital and Kenny Laing representing the All Age Mental Health Access Team, Crisis Care Centre at Harplands Hospital. Stoke-on-Trent MPs nominated both for awards and both have been awarded as regional champions for the Midlands. Well done to both teams for this amazing achievement and thank you for all they do every day.
I will continue to speak with local health officials and health Ministers in Westminster to make sure Stoke-on-Trent gets the attention needed and our health services are fully restored to pre-pandemic levels. I will not stop pushing until I am confident that our communities have access to the health and care services they deserve.