Local MP, Huw Merriman, this week spoke of his frustration following the cancellation of routine surgery due to winter challenges faced by the NHS.

Speaking twice in the House of Commons on the challenges, the MP first asked the Health Minister for more action to be taken by Government to increase the number of GPs in order for patient numbers in hospital to be reduced.

Mr Merriman then said, during a second debate, "Last Friday, I spent time with a GP practice, where staff confirmed that the flu epidemic is one of the worst they have seen for many years. From the perspective of patients, it is wrong that those who have waited months for surgery—perhaps routine, but for a condition that has an impact on their lifestyle—have been told that it has been cancelled. We need to change, but I believe we need to change the entire structure."

Speaking about the GP he had spent time with, Mr Merriman pointed out that "He had just returned from visiting a patient he had made comfortable at home. He pointed me to another area my hospital trust covers where that patient would have been put into hospital for some weeks, which would not have been good for the patient or all those other patients waiting for their care."

Calling for a Royal Commission to look at the way the NHS and Social Care is run, Mr Merriman said "I want to focus on the pressures facing GP surgeries and the pressures that puts on our hospitals. Too many patients are going to A&E because their GP surgery is not there for them." Having previously asked the Government to look again at pension rules which have caused many GPs to retire early, Mr Merriman added "It is clear that the GP model that we have continued with since 1947 is not the GP model that younger GPs want to buy into: they do not necessarily want to buy into the practice model, are concerned about litigation and do not necessarily want to stay in the same place for all those years."

Speaking after the debate, Mr Merriman praised all of the NHS staff who are working hard through the current challenges "We are very fortunate to have such amazing local staff who are battling on. However, with hospital admissions rising by 40% in the last ten years, and A&E numbers by 20%, it is clear that too many people are going straight to hospital. This may not be best for them or for other patients, as the surgery cancellation demonstrates. I would like us to address the GP practice model so people have better access. This requires more GPs and, perhaps, the NHS intervening earlier in areas, as we have, where GP surgeries have failed and other good practices have been left picking up the pieces."

Mr Merriman had also used his speech to again call for all political parties to work together to deliver better care for the elderly. Having said "In looking at reforms, I would like the Government to consider putting social care on the same footing as the central NHS." Mr Merriman again pointed at the unfairness of council tax payers in East Sussex County Council being expected to cover the higher local costs from an above average retirement age.