Published: 11:15, 16 July 2014
MP Gordon Henderson says a Westminster debate on health provision in Sittingbourne and Sheppey proved “worthwhile”.
He put forward three issues of concern regarding medical services to public health minister, Jane Ellison.
Mr Henderson said last week’s address served real purpose because “it’s one of the things a minister has to respond to”.
In making his case for better funding for Swale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – “the smallest CCG in Kent” – the MP highlighted the predicted 142.3% increase in the borough’s 85-plus age group by 2031. And he said since 2009, there had been a big increase in the number of people from ethnic minorities and traveller backgrounds living in this area.
According to the CCG, residents from such backgrounds often face different and reoccurring healthcare problems from the rest of the population.
In response, Ms Ellison said the responsibility of health funding had been handed to NHS England.
She said the trust had taken an “evidence-based approach” to cash awards which “balances the demands of growing populations and looks at historical under-funding”.
Mr Henderson also introduced the subject of renal services and his campaign for a dialysis satellite unit to be set up in either Sittingbourne or Sheppey.
Ms Ellison said NHS England was “exploring the possibility” of introducing a self-care unit to the area.
She added: “I met local NHS officials yesterday and encouraged them to continue to keep in regular touch on the matter.”
The minister also revealed the area director for Kent and Medway would be writing to Mr Henderson on the issue.
The MP also asked what steps the government was taking to address the area’s struggle to recruit GPs.
“One of the problems is that because Sittingbourne and Sheppey are relatively close to London, it’s difficult to attract young doctors because many of them prefer to work in the capital rather than to move out to the sticks,” said Mr Henderson.
He said Swale had one of the highest patient head-counts per doctor in the country, a figure he claimed would worsen over the next three years as “one in three of our GPs is expected to retire during that period”.
Ms Ellison said Swale CCG’s setting up of the North Kent Education, Research and Innovation Hub was one of the ways in which the issue was being tackled.
She said it would be looking – at a local level in particular – what needed to be done to address expected shortages.
“With the best will in the world, these things cannot be solved with a grand plan in the centre,” she said.
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