It seems peculiar at the time of the announcement of more homes coming to Colchester, GP practices are already struggling to provide appointments; and there seems little planning is being made for extra provision any time soon.
Most doctors surgeries in Colchester now offer a ‘same day only’ appointment system. Patients are expected to call in the morning that they want an appointment and almost no surgeries will offer an appointment for the next day. Booking an appointment in advance can be very difficult, and patients are often palmed off on a nurse practitioner. If the practice runs out of slots, it leaves the patient either waiting on the emergency list, waiting for hours in the surgery to see the emergency doctor, or being sent to the Walk-in Centre.
Many GP Practices admit that they are struggling to recruit enough doctors to see patients and the GP’s that are working are under extreme pressure to get their patients in and out as quickly as possible. This increases the risk of mistakes being made or a diagnoses being missed completely.
Walk In Centre and Accident & Emergency already under huge pressure
Once a patient is declined an appointment it leaves them with very little choice other than go to the Walk In centre. In some cases, the patient may go to A&E.
In many cases, both of these services would be under less pressure if the patient could see a doctor at their own practice. In fact, patients are being turned away from Colchester A&E meaning the Walk In centre is the only place for them to go.
Lack of Infrastructure
Asked anyone who lives in Colchester about the traffic, and you’ll almost certainly receive nothing but complaints. The same can be said for GP appointments where there seems to be a huge contrast in the availability of appointments (and this appears to vary depending on what area of the town you live in).
The problem with Colchester is that new and updated infrastructure never seems to follow the thousands of houses being built. The Praecedo estate saw hundreds of new homes built on former garrison land but no new GP surgery. The local primary school – St John’s Green – did get a new campus. However, this was for a school that was already bursting at the seams prior to completion of Praecedo and which has since had to apply for planning permission for a two-storey extension just two years after opening.
Of course, the problem with the lack of GP appointments is a more deep routed. General Practitioners have been under attacked by the Conservative Government. Just like teaching, people are leaving the medical profession in the droves due to the constant attack from the Government. Building new GP surgeries is one thing: providing suitable staff is quite another.
Colchester is close to bursting
Of course new homes are needed for our growing and ageing population. Unfortunately it feels as if Colchester is being forced to take more than it’s fair share of growth. Thousands of new homes have popped up all over the town including Copford, Stanway, Turner Rise, Severalls and now Middlewick.
It seems Colchester is destined to turn from a Market Town to a sprawling city, and I find this very sad.