"More chance of seeing Elvis than your GP" - Bedford's deputy mayor slams access to healthcare

One man had to queue outside his GP surgery from 7.40am because he couldn’t get through on the phone

Bedford’s deputy mayor has told the area’s primary health provider that people have more chances of seeing Elvis than their GP.

On Tuesday (May 17) the council’s Rural Affairs Committee was updated on healthcare provision in the borough, particularly in the rural communities, by the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group.

During the meeting, Bedford mayor, Dave Hodgson, said the borough is the sixth-worst in the country in terms of number of GPs per population – one GP for over 2,700 people.

Deputy mayor councillor Charles Royden says Bedford residents have a better chance of seeing Elvis than their GP

Building on that point, deputy mayor councillor Charles Royden, said: “In Bedford there’s probably more chance of seeing Elvis than seeing your local GP.”

Councillor Royden (LibDems, Brickhill Ward) spoke about a resident who had to queue outside the surgery from 7.40am to try to get an appointment as he couldn’t get through on the phone.

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“What we’re having now is people having to go to private GPs, we’re getting a two-tier health service in Bedford.

“If they can’t see the GPs then they’re not getting into hospital, and not getting the treatment that they need for all kinds of things, which could be sorted out much more quickly if that can get an early diagnosis and early treatment,” he said.

David Picking, BLMK CCG’s head of primary care development and transformation for practices in Bedford Borough and Milton Keynes, replied that the deputy mayor could email him (if the resident agrees) if he has concerns that a resident isn’t being treated, or isn’t getting the treatment they deserve,

“You won’t be alone in that, there are a number of councillors that email me directly and I’ll do my best to find out what the problem is,” he said.

Councillor Royden said that Mr Picking could be overwhelmed with emails as it won’t be hard to find residents who are having difficulty in seeing their GP.

The mayor added: “Then we’ll have a three-tier [health] system, those that have access to David Picking, those that can go private, and those that haven’t got access to David Picking.”