I AM writing in response to the possible closure of Milverton surgery.

Local residents have every right to fight for a comprehensive continuing service. I also sympathise with the Somerset Partnership Trust, which is essentially being forced to close the premises.

The background to this move is significant. The British Medical Association in 2016 identified 43,500 GPs in the NHS.

NHS England has identified nearly a £30 billion gap between patient needs and financial resources each year to 2020/21.

In 2015 more than 600 GP training posts were left vacant. At the same time, the current facts show that, largely due to an ageing population with more complex chronic illness, GP consultations have both lengthened in time and become more frequent.

In 2013, nine out of 10 GPs considered bureaucracy and tick-box filling took them away from patient care and this applied to other health professionals as well, who considered the information gathered had no relevance or practical use for patient care.

READ MORE: Milverton Surgery could be set to close

A BMA Tracker survey showed 68 per cent of GPs actually considered their work-load unmanageable. GP recruitment into training posts has fallen for the past three years. Vacancy rates have continued to rise in GPs, with nearly one in 10 partnerships having vacancies in 2015 in England.

So, where have the doctors gone? 22,000 went to work overseas between 2008 and 2014 and when the new junior doctors contract was enforced in November 2015, there were 3,468 requests to practice outside the UK in the following 10 days, which compares with the 200-250 which might have normally been expected over the same period.

A further BMA study identified that, eight years after graduation, 10 per cent of doctors intended to work permanently overseas, whilst a whopping one third intended to work either temporarily or permanently overseas.

The establishment of golden handshakes of £20,000 to encourage a newly qualified GP to go to the less popular areas is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The ambition to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 is clearly unrealistic in the face of falling recruitment to training programmes and many older GPs are seeking to retire early.

Milverton is, sadly, the result of chronic underfunding of the NHS.

This is called ‘Austerity’, a policy completely driven by the twin ambition of the current Conservative administration to balance the budget and, at the same time, not raise taxes.

This has led to progressive damage to our public services, not only the NHS but also the prison service, local authorities, the police and emergency services, to name those which have increasingly featured in the public eye due to apparent evidence of failure.

It is clear our local MP does little except wring her hands in this situation; surely we deserve better than this?

Milverton district