Combe Martin man’s campaign over health proposals

Joseph Bulmer

CONCERNED at what government proposals to reform the health service could mean, a Combe Martin man has decided to raise public awareness of what he fears might happen if plans to “privatise” it go ahead.

Allan Davies plans to spend every Wednesday morning outside Combe Martin Health Centre handing out copies of the British Medical Association’s response to the proposals, which has expressed concern over the apparent “market based” approach to health care.

Ironically, when Mr Davies launched his campaign on Thursday, he found the Combe Martin Health Centre closed, with a notice saying due to “a severe shortage” of GPs it would temporarily be closed every Thursday morning from the start of May.

The centre is run by the Waterside Practice and the note said patients and calls would be diverted to its practice in Ilfracombe, although Mr Davies said in 10 minutes two people had turned up to use the centre, unaware that it was closed.

“This exemplifies exactly what this is about and is just the tip of what is coming,” he said.

“I feel as does the BMA that the proposals will undermine provision of the health service to all. The insurance companies will become more prominent and if you look at the dental service it gives a prime example of how this seems to be drifting.

“Anyone who has sat on the side of a bed watching someone die will know what is required to support them and private health insurance won’t do that.”

Mr Davis will now be outside the Combe Martin surgery every Wednesday between 9.30-11.30am.

A spokesperson for Waterside Practice said there had been a local issue providing cover for a partner who recently left.

“This meant that we haven’t been able to run our usual half-day session in the village on a Thursday. It is probably because it’s only for a few hours one day a week and most locum GPs would be after a longer working day,” they said.

“We hope to be able to get the half-day session up and running normally again once we have a new permanent partner. We’ve amended the sign on the door at the surgery to make this clear.

“Patients are reminded they can book an appointment at our main surgery in Ilfracombe, open every week day from 8.30am- 6pm.”