How to cut waiting lists and reduce the pressure on our hospitals - get GPs to perform minor ops

PUBLISHED: 09:11 21 June 2013 | UPDATED: 10:30 21 June 2013

Dr Heath performing a minor operation at his surgery in King's Lynn.

Dr Heath performing a minor operation at his surgery in King's Lynn.


Pressure would be reduced on hospitals, and waiting lists shortened, if family doctors performed more minor surgery, according to a Norfolk GP.

GP and surgeon Alan Heath carries out around 1,500 operations a year at the Southgates Medical and Surgical Centre in Goodwins Road, Kings Lynn.

Dr Heath will be delivering a special evening lecture about surgery to GPs from across west Norfolk next Wednesday night, to encourage more to take up their scalpels. A spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said it was looking “positively” at the idea. “We’re looking forward to hearing what he’s got to say,” he added.

But doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) warned many practices would not have the spare capacity to take on extra work.

Dr Heath said: “I’ve worked in the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk area as a local GP and surgeon for more than 20 years and served the local community to help ease the pressure from local hospitals such as the Queen Elizabeth and Sandringham hospitals.

“A passion of mine is to give local surgery to those who may not need to go to hospital but would prefer to be in a local, friendly atmosphere and environment.”

Noel McGivern, general manager at Southgates, said: “We are acutely aware of the hospital having a huge amount of unrelenting pressure on its service and we feel our expertise and our services offer another choice giving our patients the right treatment, in the right place and in the shortest possible waiting time.

“We are here to give advice, share best practice and knowledge to support the demand for our patients looking for a quicker, easier, less stressful environment with early diagnosis, referrals and less waiting times between pre-op and surgery.”

Procedures available at Southgates include operations to cure carpal tunnel syndrome, stripping varicose veins, haemorrhoid removal, vasectomies and cataract treatment.

A spokesman for the BMA said: “Any proposals that could improve patient care and reduce waiting lists should be considered, especially as GPs have been at the forefront of delivering new services in the community including minor surgery techniques.

“However, any expansion of minor surgery will need to be properly funded and take into the account the huge workload that many practices are facing on a daily basis. GPs are already undertaking a million consultations a day across the UK, but many practices currently do not have spare capacity to undertake other work.”

Last year the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) released a report saying doctors should be prepared to develop new skills and take on new roles to meet the challenges of delivering 21st century healthcare.

Procedures are also available at the Gayton Road Health Centre, also in Lynn, and the St Stephens Gate Medical Practice, in Norwich.

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