Heads need 'knocking together' to solve Maldon NHS problems, says MP Sir John Whittingdale

By Piers Meyler - Local Democracy Reporter

28th Jan 2023 | Local News

Sir John Whittingdale met with Anthony McKeever, chief executive of the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board. (Photos: Nub News and LDRS)
Sir John Whittingdale met with Anthony McKeever, chief executive of the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board. (Photos: Nub News and LDRS)

Heads need "knocking together" to ensure health services in Maldon can improve, Sir John Whittingdale said at a Town Hall meeting last Friday (January 27).

Sir John Whittingdale has said difficulty in accessing primary care in Maldon is likely to only get worse given current development in the town is delivering around 3,000 new homes.

The overall vision for Maldon is a new health centre in Heybridge, staffed by GPs from the existing practices. There will also be a brand new health hub, incorporating some services from the former St Peter's hospital to be combined with one of the GP practices, likely to be Blackwater. That will allow the other practice, most probably Longfield, to expand.

He said: "But it requires us to work with the GPs in both practices. And that they are in different primary care networks has made it much more difficult to achieve the kind of collaboration we need.

"There are structural issues that need to be addressed and without addressing those we can't move forward into this bright new future.

"It became apparent that maybe there were communication difficulties between the NHS and practices.

"It will need now some heads knocking together and a determination to sort out these existing obstacles and achieve reforms and then at the same time allow us to move forward.

"People ask when. But the answer is as soon as we can get the structure agreed. It's not about money, it's about getting the necessary change."

He added: "At the moment there is a certain resistance."

Councillor Stephen Nunn, vice chairman of Maldon District Council, said difficulty in getting appointments has meant he has decided to pay for private health.

He said: "I place this responsibility fairly and squarely with the NHS. I am a great believer and supporter of the NHS but my family has got to the stage where we have had to pay to go private. There is a big problem in Maldon and it definitely needs to be addressed."

Anthony McKeever, chief executive of the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board, said money will be released only when structural reform has been agreed.

He said: "Sir John and the councillors who have met today have made it very clear that team NHS has taken too long to bring about some much needed changes.

"I have heard people are crying out for the improvements we have planned and I am very clear I have got to go away and make them happen."

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