Cumberland Madness: Disrespecting Veterans


The NHS can never be a bottomless pit and in recent years it has been struggling more than in most years as the country recognises that there is a limit to free healthcare and the extraordinary waste that the NHS entails. Paying too much for nurses, badly negotiated procurement and too many management/admin staff and hangers-on – all these and other NHS ills are getting more airtime in the media.

But sometimes there seems to be a lack of joined-up thinking when it comes to certain decisions regarding the NHS.

Is this because NHS planners would be working in the private sector if they were up to it? Do cost-cutters really think things through when they switch suppliers or close parts of the health service? Do core services need to be cut at the expense of more jobs for jobsworths?  Surely the bloated NHS is too fat already, no?

The closure of countryside surgeries is an issue we shall be addressing head on in detail in future here in Country Squire Magazine. But we cannot help but point out one example of mindless lack of NHS foresight, which is happening right now – the planned closure of a surgery in Plymouth, Devon, which surely cannot add up at all:

Cumberland GP surgery serves the Plymouth Devonport community who have the highest and often most complex healthcare needs in the city. Devonport residents die on average more than 10 years earlier than other Plymouth residents.

Although the surgery has only been open for three years, 2000 patients and counting currently use the facilities available. These include homeless residents who find accessing and trusting healthcare professionals difficult, individuals from the most deprived areas of Plymouth and ex-service men and women. All GPs who work at the surgery are well liked and respected as shown by the rapidly increasing patient list with patients choosing to come to the Cumberland surgery over other alternatives.

With the welcome announcement that the Marines will be returning to Plymouth in the multiple thousands there will be extra pressure put on surgeries by their attendant families and the staff brought in to cater for them. This will be a real shot in the arm to a deprived area but existing services will become stretched.

Despite this, NHS England are looking to close the Cumberland surgery and plan to lock its doors forever at the end of March 2017.

The local Patient Participation Group feels this is not acceptable. Patients, some of whom have never engaged in their own healthcare, have developed close and trusting relationships with their GP’s that will be lost. For some this includes unique PTSD cases brought on by service to the country in the Falklands and in other campaigns – how can we let these desperately important relationships be discarded?

More than 2000 patients will be expected to join another surgery with many of the alternatives a significant distance away. Most patients do not have access to private transport and will rely on public transport to access these surgeries. This is likely to be difficult, stressful, time-consuming and costly. The current situation therefore looks unfavourable. The most deprived residents of Plymouth face being deprived of yet another service, just in case dying 10 years younger wasn’t enough!

GP’s are willing to help and work with the community and the community is happy to engage with the Cumberland surgery. But blinkered NHS planners continue to fail to see the light.

Why can’t the NHS support this surgery? Don’t these men and women deserve their surgery?

The PPG has started this petition to show the NHS that the Cumberland Surgery is needed, wanted and required. There is also a campaign underway using the hashtag #savecumberlandsurgery

But Cumberland Surgery is running out of time and there needs to be an intervention from the higher echelons of Government fast.

Please sign to support the PPG’s aim to keep the Cumberland Surgery open for all current and future patients. The local MP, Oliver Colvile, is currently meeting local residents to discuss the matter.

This does seem like a case of joined-up thinking being thrown out of the window. Jeremy Hunt should bash some heads together and make them see sense. Great British Veterans, especially, deserve more.

22 thoughts on “Cumberland Madness: Disrespecting Veterans

  1. FOUR surgeries are closing in this catchment area …to accommodate just the 2000 from this surgery will be mammoth and extend the waiting time to see a doctor … plus this surgery takes JDs from the teaching school to give them experience….You think thats a good idea then to stop that??

  2. What is madness, is that there is a surgery less than two miles away from the Cumberland Surgery. Madness that we complain about nhs wastage then fight the changes to make efficient the nhs!

  3. Patients are not left without access to GP services, alternative GP services are available at DEVONPORT MEDICAL CENTRE less than 2 miles away.

  4. I dont think you have concentrated on my comments … …. and you certainly have no idea of what is going on here ……

  5. Ann, have you not tried existing surgeries within your catchment area. Puzzled why you are attempting to register outside of your catchment area? I don’t think the comments on here are negative, it’s reality and is what it is. I work for the nhs and there are relocations and closures nationwide. Existing surgeries will be funded to accomodate for extra patients, your Service Provider should have written with alternatives?

  6. Take note: Surgeries outside the catchment area will not take patients ….. I have tried…… 4 not 1 surgeries are closing …….

  7. So imagine how its going to be once the RMs re deploy here with their families !!

  8. Hear hear …. what the people who are posting negative comments don’t realise is that they are closing FOUR surgeries within a mile of here ( this catchment ) ….I have tried two other surgeries just outside the area and they will not take any patients if they are not in their area ….. so its not a case of taking a bus etc …. they just won’t take us ……

  9. The NHS has to be fair for all regardless of age, gender, occupation, ethnicity or religion. To insist that a non-viable surgery remain open as 2K patients do not want to be re-located within the locality is a tad selfish. If you insist on running a surgery at a loss then someone else along the line will suffer, as the NHS is not a magic money tree nor can it satisfy each individuals travel arrangements.

  10. Veterans and families of serving soldiers / navy / marines deserve a better health service than the rest of us. End of. The pain they go through and the sacrifice they make is second to none. This surgery should be kept open even if it is uneconomical according to some pencil necks in some irrelevant office somewhere whose only risk in life is crossing the road.

  11. Interesting comments, any discussion about the NHS or our Armed Forces is often emotive. Ultimately, we should be thankful that we have “free healthcare at the point of access” as the average working man’s NI contributions over a life time still does not equate to the true cost of using and running the NHS. Unless we are prepared to pay more into the system, so be it if we have to drive or take a bus to see the GP. If you are within walking distance to see a GP then you have been very lucky.

  12. In response to Anne Shrubb: I’ve no shame in querying whether it’s viability that’s caused the forthcoming closure of the surgery. Especially as NHSE aporoved it’s opening less than five years ago. Surgeries don’t just close for no reason. What a waste of tax payers money,…incompetence on someone’s head within your local NHS provider/locality. Perhaps blame Jeremy Hunt?

  13. Nope and you should be ashamed to suggest such a thing …. clearly you havent a clue about the workings of NHS England…..

  14. In response to Ann Shrubb – clearly some heads wirhin NHSE or your local service provider does not see a surgery with 2K patients as viable – otherwise they wouldn’t be closing it. But my query is, if this is the case, why was it ever opened in 2013 only to be shut down in less than five years. Staff within your locality have duped patients?!

  15. Who said it wasnt viable and dont you think the doctors have been asking this…. question therefore superfluous ….neither the council or MP either agrees with this closure… NHS England have cocked a “deaf ‘un” and it seems, only answer to Jeremy Hunt.

  16. Suggest locals in Plymouth need to question NHSE – why was Cumberland Surgery given the go-ahead in 2013 and now considered not viable? Ridiculous!

  17. Also down to NHS staff not to con the system …. see what happened at Basildon hospital £650000+ claimed for work never done by staff … where else is this happening?

  18. I am not attacking the locals in Plymouth, i am talking about NHS as a whole. It has lacked investment due to cutbacks hence reliance on expensive overseas Temps which includes Docs/Surgeons/Nurses etc. What we pay in does not pay for the services. No denying there is wastage and fatcat pay cheques to personnel that aren’t clinically trained but speak to any clinician they don’t want to nanage the business side…it is down to Govt to cut the fatcat pay though.

  19. Do you know the area? One of the poorest in Plymouth …….you have no idea making that statement…

  20. If we pay beer money, we cannot expect to be served champagne? I am not saying it’s right that these patients have to travel further but NHS is not a bottomless money pit…either we pay more taxes or streamline services.

  21. It’s madness on a monumental scale – meanwhile some NHS managers earn more then the PM … and several staff at a hospital in Essex were accused of claiming £650000 for work they didn’t do!! Tip of the iceberg? NHS England to be unfit for service

  22. Well said Mr Townley. This surgery closure is a disgrace. It can be prevented. Why are surgeries being left open which are less well-attended in areas where marines and other veterans do not live? Surely servicemen and women should get priority?

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