NHS wait times in Chelmsford are 'not good enough', says Lib Dem candidate

NHS is top of people’s issues on the doorstep - according to a Lib Dem candidate who was speaking at a visit by party leader Ed Davey. Marie Goldman , who is standing for the Chelmsford constituency, said she has seen evidence that one family may have to wait 18 months for a paediatric appointment.

The party is in a close fight to win the seat from the Tories - currently holding a majority of more than 17,500. According to recent polling it is too close to call. Mrs Goldman, who is also an Essex county and Chelmsford city councillor said the closure of doctors surgeries in Dickens Place and Wood Street have had impacts across the city.

She was speaking during a visit from Ed Davey who was given practice how perform CPR and use a defibrillator machine Dickens Place surgery announced their sudden closure in April 2023, leaving more than 5,000 people searching for new healthcare provisions.

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Dickens Place Surgery had served residents living in the Melbourne and Newlands Spring area of Chelmsford. A letter written by the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board to people living close to the surgery says they are having to close "because the GP partners who run the surgery gave notice on their contract to provide GP services." The letter added that the local NHS is "working hard" to minimise any disruption to patients. Wood Street Surgery closed in 2022 following claims it "fell into disrepair after not being sufficiently maintained".

Mrs Goldman said: “The main issue that comes up on the doorstep time and time again is the NHS. People are telling us that they really struggle to get a GP appointment here in Chelmsford. We have had a couple of GP surgeries that have closed in Dickens Place and Wood Street - that is really affecting people .

"But it is affecting everyone across the whole of Chelmsford. We need more GPs - but we also need people once they get to see a GP to get treatment - not to have to wait months and months

"I had a resident tell me recently they needed a paediatric appointment for their two-year-old daughter and they received a letter which I have seen which said the waiting list is between 16 and 18 months. The child would be three and half by the time they get to see the specialist. That is not good enough and we need to fix that.

The party has said its funding pledges focus on tax changes – such as reversing tax cuts for the big banks and imposing a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies.

She said: “The Lib Dems have a fully funded and fully costed manifesto and we have plans to get 8,000 more GPs and part of that is getting more doctors back into the profession they have left.

“We need to be recruiting, training and crucially retaining people that we bring in the system. We need to make sure the doctors we spend money on training stay with us.”