A Cambridgeshire doctor's concerned about raising people's expectations when there's a GP shortage

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The Health Secretary has promised to be a 'champion' for patients as she set out how the NHS would be supported through the winter.

Thérèse Coffey has pledged better access to GPs and dentists, shorter ambulance delays and funding to tackle the patient backlog.

She also committed 500 million pounds to help discharge patients from hospitals earlier and care for them at home or in the community. Opponents have questioned how it can be achieved.

At Granta Medical Practice in Sawston, Cambridgeshire half of the surgery's patients are seen on the day, the other half already get seen within the two weeks maximum envisaged by the Health Secretary.

However there's still concern about raising people's expectations at a time when there is a chronic and growing shortage of GPs

Dr James Morrow said: "There is a shortage of about 7,800 GPs at the moment and although there are more GPs in training than there ever have been before we're losing more out of the top end of the profession than are coming in at the bottom.

"So there's a shortage of GPs, increasing demands and expectations and some practices are really struggling."

Shehu Mamman, Superintedent Pharmacist Credit: ITV Anglia

The pharmacy is the busiest in Cambridgeshire, processing around 20,000 prescriptions a month.

Therese Coffey wants more pharmacists to gain extra qualifications so they can prescribe a wider range of medicines helping take pressure off GPs.

Shehu Mamman, Superintedent Pharmacist said: "The Government plan is that eventually all pharmacists graduating will be able to prescribe as part of their course.

"So it is the natural way forward for the pharmacy profession to help with the prescribing side of things as well as the supply side."

Healthwatch, which represents patients' interests, also believes expectations have to be handled carefully.

Sandie Smith, CEO, Healthwatch, Cambs said: "Some GPs have very challenging populations to work with as well to be quite honest.

"It's harder for them to recruit a workforce and maybe they might need a bit of help with organisation where they have workforce turnover. So it's a really inconsistent picture."

In the announcement there was no specific mention of tackling the ongoing crisis in dentistry.

A charity set up to provide dental work overseas has been providing emergency care in some areas Credit: ITV Anglia

The Department of Health has said it is a priority and action will follow which is not good enough for the Toothless in England campaign group.

Mark Jones from the group said: "People are resorting to D.I.Y dentistry, saying I've had enough, I can't bear anymore pain, they're saying theu've grabbed a pair of pliers out of the garage and resorted to pulling out their own teeth."

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