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Deputy questions value of £50 doctor charge

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THE £50 charge to see a doctor locally is under scrutiny as part of the review of primary healthcare in the island, but there are no plans ‘to fix what’s not broken’.

Pic by Adrian Miller 27-11-19.Deputy Heidi Soulsby. (26495160)

Deputy Laurie Queripel brought up the issue in the States debate, highlighting that some people have to make appointments just to get repeat prescriptions and were still subject to the substantial charge.

‘I’m aware that some islanders go to see their doctor purely and simply to get their prescription renewed and it takes just a few minutes and there are many islanders who feel they shouldn’t have to do that because they have a long-term condition. Has there ever been any thought about perhaps talking to doctors about a lesser charge when people just go simply to get their prescription renewed, and not the full charge?’

The president of Health & Social Care, Deputy Heidi Soulsby confirmed that the doctors’ charge was just one of myriad issues that were being looked at, and a policy letter on primary care provision was due to go before the Assembly next year before the election.

She flagged up that data sharing with health care providers was one of their focuses, because it is important that decisions are informed by the facts.

‘What Deputy Queripel says is absolutely something that we need to think about, but in the round.’

Deputy Richard Graham also asked for an update on the review of primary care provision, and Deputy Soulsby said a lot of work was being carried out to establish a new direction of travel, but she cautioned that it was complex.

‘People might think it’s as easy as making GPs cheaper, but we need to look at this in terms of why are people going to the GP in the first place.

‘It’s not a simple thing to do, and the one thing we have to be careful of is we don’t want to destroy what’s good with the system, because really we get an excellent service here and we don’t need to fix what’s not broken.’

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Also during question time, Deputy Sarah Hansmann Rouxel asked about progress in well women services, in particular the menopause, and the impact the menopause has on other long-term conditions.

Deputy Soulsby did not have the details to hand, but committed herself to finding out, and expressed confidence that staff gave the hormonal life cycles of women the utmost consideration.

Deputy Gollop wanted to know about mental and social health services outside of 9 till 5 hours.

This was acknowledged by Deputy Soulsby as something they were looking at, in conjunction with the charity Guernsey Mind.

Regarding a question about the Princess Elizabeth Hospital travel plan, Deputy Soulsby revealed that brand new changing facilities will be built for nursing staff, because the current facilities are ‘appalling’.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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