The role of the GP has changed dramatically over the years, not always for the better.

I remember when growing up we had an excellent GP, Dr Sheila Griffith's. She ran a practice together with her husband, Ronald, based in East Ham.

Dr Sheila was almost a member of the family, always there to help.

In those days, I'm sure there was none of the anodyne services on offer these days when booking an appointment. Ring at 8am, no matter how ill you are, to have any chance of a same-day appointment. 

There is almost an expectation that your illness should be timetabled - scheduled for a convenient slot. 

A lot of the personal touch from GPs in days gone by has been lost. That said, we are very lucky in Wanstead with the GP surgeries, most of which offer an excellent service.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Cllr Paul Donovan mourns the loss of the personal touch from traditional GPsCllr Paul Donovan mourns the loss of the personal touch from traditional GPs

One practice that seems to be very popular is the Aldersbrook Medical Centre.

Previously, there had been complaints about the service on offer to the 4,000 residents of the Aldersbrook Estate. That was until the Hackney-based Richmond Road Partnership arrived and took over five years ago.

It has really gone the extra mile. The satisfaction level has seen the practice take on another 1,700 patients.

The Richmond Road Partnership expected to roll its contract on for another five years. But in the usual let's try to get a quart out of a pint pot approach, NHS managers want the same service to be provided for up to 10% less.

The Richmond Road Partnership is already stretched, so cannot provide the same service for less.

This bureaucratic bean counting that assumes that public services can always be done for less is nonsensical. The services may be cut but that usually impacts staff, cutting numbers or terms and conditions.  

In the end, if you continue down this crazy cuts route, the service simply cannot be provided. We are seeing the results of this madness in local government across the land. 

The people of Aldersbrook though are not to be trifled with.

A campaign has begun to keep the Richmond Road Practice managing Aldersbrook Medical Centre.

A well-attended meeting was held last week, where members of the Aldersbrook Medical Centre Patient Participation Group and doctors from the practice spoke. The petition ( calling for the same service to remain has already gathered hundreds of signatures.

Let's hope the managers are listening to the people. They have an excellent GP practice, so why not allow it to continue? Listen to the doctors and patients, not the faceless bean counting bureaucrats.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (