WEST Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has attacked a petition circulating in the area over the future of doctors’ surgeries as “blatant scaremongering”.
Rosie says the British Medical Association-led campaign is causing many patients undue worry because they are being led to believe that local practices will close.
The BMA, which is the doctors’ trade union, is claiming the Government’s plans for polyclinics, which are designed to provide a range of services, will present a threat to doctors’ surgeries.
But Rosie has had assurances from Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust that there are no polyclinics planned for West Lancashire.
In fact, despite these ill-founded rumours, no doctors’ surgery is threatened with closure, the Skelmersdale Walk-In Centre will remain open and during 2008 an additional facility, which includes an Urgent Care Centre, will open at Ormskirk Hospital.
The Labour MP said: “I have a huge amount of respect for our local doctors who are very hard-working, and that is why I find it a shame the BMA is using them as a vehicle to worry local people unnecessarily.
“I have had residents contacting me over the BMA’s blatant scaremongering tactics. The trouble is that their message is aimed at a national audience but it is causing real worry here in West Lancashire.
“The Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, is on record as saying that polyclinics could be used in certain areas where need is the highest, such as London, and it doesn’t mean they will be replicated across the country.
“Having spoken to our local PCT today, I can say that there are no such plans for West Lancashire.”
Nicky O’Connor, Acting Chief Executive of Central Lancs PCT, said: “We are continuing to invest in primary care services across Central Lancashire to provide more choice for patients.
“We will be establishing a new GP-led centre in Ormskirk and that will include an Urgent Care Centre. We will also be establishing new GP-led centres in Chorley and Preston. All three will be open 8am-8pm in areas where these new services are needed. These are in addition to existing services already provided.
“This is in line with our overall aim to deliver services where they are most needed and investment in primary care is key.”