Southend Faces Critical Shortage of Doctors and Dentists
The BBC in a recent report reveals concerns raised by Healthwatch Southend, over a shortage of doctors and dentists, leading to challenges in accessing healthcare services.
The Healthwatch Southend highlighted the challenges faced by residents in accessing essential healthcare services. According to the local health watchdog, they receive “very frequent inquiries” regarding access to medical professionals, indicating a pressing issue in the community.
With a deficit of £46.4 million, the area faces significant obstacles in providing adequate care to meet patient demands. However, a new plan is being drawn up, aimed at enhancing NHS primary healthcare services within the region.
Speaking to the city council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, the Healthwatch’s chief officer, Owen Richards said "There are real issues at the current time"
"GP access needs to be updated. There is a reference in there around a plan to improve access to GPs, but there is a bit of gap in here for me on that, because that is something local people talk to us about almost every day - access to services, general practice and dentistry."
Discussing the Mid and South Essex Joint Forward Plan, Mr Richards also highlighted that digital devices were excluding some patients. While acknowledging the benefits that digital solutions can bring, he stressed the need to address the existing access issues experienced by some individuals.
In his words "There is a lot of emphasis understandably about digital within the report that will help a lot of people - it will not help others.
"There is something in the language we use in the system about improving access, some of which could be through digital routes, but we almost seem to focus more on the solution rather than the issue that there are problems of access at the moment."
Krishna Ramkhelawon, the council's Director of public health, emphasised the financial challenges faced by the local NHS and the necessity of exploring alternative approaches.
He said: "I think it's imperative to remind ourselves that the local NHS are in an unsustainable position financially and that is probably one of the driving forces in enabling us to do things differently”
He further highlighted ongoing discussions within the NHS regarding prevention and addressing of the key issues. He also spoke about efforts that are underway to evaluate investment in hospital services and review of service restriction policies to ensure optimal allocation of resources.
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