MP accuses doctor of trying to further political ambitions
A DOCTOR who warned that patients in the NHS were being put at risk to save money has been accused of making the claims to further his political ambitions.
Newark MP Patrick Mercer hit out at Carlton GP Dr Ian Campbell, who sent a letter to 6,000 of his patients warning them that doctors and nurses were being "pushed beyond the point of safety" and "asked to take risks with your health in order to save money".
His words caused controversy among patients, sparked debate with fellow doctors, but Mr Mercer said the GP was pushing a political agenda.
Mr Mercer said: "I think it is disingenuous of Dr Campbell not to mention the fact that not only is he chairman of the Newark Labour Party, but that, of course, such a letter can only help with any future political ambitions that he has."
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But Dr Campbell, who has been a GP since 1989, said the MP bore a grudge against him. He said: "I stood against Patrick Mercer in 2010 and have not expressed any intention of standing against him again. Clearly old grudges run deep.
"My concern here is with healthcare provision, not politics. My letter, as you will know, does not contest that financial responsibility within the NHS is necessary. It's about how that responsibility is exercised.
"The disparity the Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group is creating with healthcare provision against other areas of the city is a concern, and unfair."
In his letter, Dr Campbell said the CCG, which caters for 145,000 people, had overspent – believed to be by about £4 million – and is now having to make savings.
The Government's NHS shake-up has abolished primary care trusts and replaced them with clinical commissioning groups, which are led by GPs.
Yesterday, Nottingham North and East CCG met GPs from its 20 practices and discussed the overspend.
Part of the problem is that some practices refer more patients to hospital than others.
Dr Campbell said that when a patient is sent to hospital it costs the CCG up to £2,900.
He said: "Although we have tried as a clinical team to reduce unnecessary hospital visits whenever possible it now seems we have to go even further. In other words, we are being asked to take risks with your health in order to save money."
His words caused concern among patients who are governed by the Nottingham North and East CCG.
One such patient is Mapperley resident Maureen Richardson, 69, who said: "Of course I worry about what Dr Campbell has said, but I think he is right to raise his concerns. Doctors shouldn't put cost cutting ahead of care."
But Dr John Doddy, a GP in Stapleford and part of the Nottingham West CCG, disagreed with Dr Campbell. He said: "It's about having a collective responsibility. Doctors will be able to deliver an improved standard of care when they know how much things cost."