Dear Editor, In the debate over NHS polyclinics, which has been covered extensively in The Birmingham Post in recent days, we need to ensure that entrenched, vested interests do not play an over-bearing part in shaping how future primary care services are delivered in our most disadvantaged communities.
This is particularly important in a city like Birmingham which is home to some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country, especially those in the inner city with large concentrations of ethnic minorities.
We should recognise that polyclinics may have a role to play in improving the health of poor communities where life expectancy is 10 years lower than in the leafy suburbs.
However, setting-up polyclinics should not be at the expense of small surgeries, like mine at Grange Hill in Birmingham, where we place a high premium on being in touch with our patients and the community in which they live.
In acommunity outreach event with our Patients Forum, held last week, the majority of our patients were supportive of the work we do, which goes far beyond medical care.
The current debate centres upon a consumerist primary care delivery model, encompassing polyclinics, versus the long-term doctor-patient relationship represented by smaller community-based practices.
We are about listening to local people and working with them to improve their health, well-being and quality of life.
Before we rush headlong into another untested experiment in primary care, can we consider the valuable role that community-focussed practices play in deprived communities?
That's why medical paractioners in South Birmingham and patients are taking our case to Parliament on 2nd July to ensure that medical practices with deep community roots are not bypassed in the rush for 'big is beautiful'.
Anyone want to help us invest £1m in Birmingham suburbs?
Dear Editor, I very much welcome the realistic comment of Coun Summerfield yesterday morning that 'I don't think we have done as much as we should do' to assist in the Birminghams uburbs.
We at ART are all very keen to work in partnership and have more than £1million to invest in enterprises this year with the primary target being the suburbs linked to our wider mission of local jobs for local people.
An open invitation is extended to Coun Summerfield and any other members and officers to explore opportunities to work together in providing support and finance for small businesses and social enterprises, which create or preserve jobs in the Birmingham suburbs, unable to obtain their full funding requirements from the Banks and other sources.
We , like you, keenly await the action plan- and sincerely hope that it is followed by Action.
Dr Steve Walker
Chief executive Art (Aston Reinvestment Trust)
Help Brooke to help horses in need
Dear Editor, I support Brooke, the UK's largest overseas equine welfare charity and help run its Lichfield local supporter group. The Brooke does the most remarkable work in some of the poorest places in the world. Its teams of vets and community workers provide free veterinary care to hundreds of thousands of hardworking horses and donkeys, and provide vital training in animal care for their poor owners.
This July you can join thousands of people across the UK doing their bit to help working horses and donkeys overseas by taking part in the charity's summer fundraising campaign Horses in Need 2008. Hundreds of Brooke supporters have already signed up to do a range of amazing fundraising activities such as fancy dress rides, providing massages for family and friends and even skydiving!
Many horses and donkeys are suffering right now - please help the Brooke to put a stop to this. Registering to take part in Horses in Need 2008 couldn't be simpler and the Brooke will send you a fundraising pack full of ideas to get you started. Log on to www.thebrooke.org/hin or call 0845 367 0999.
Everyone can help ahorse in need, so please sign up!
Going forward and backward
Dear Editor, After reading the article "End of the line for Grand Central railway plan in Birmingham", I would like to ask if the City motto has been changed from Forward to Backward?
It defies logic how Council leaders assert that a refurbishment of New Street will address Birmingham's rail needs for the foreseeable future.
There are simply too few tracks into New Street from the East.
The crux of this problem could have been addressed when the Bull Ring was rebuilt, or the symptoms dealt with if the Curzon Street site remained available for future use.
Iread that this decision was unanimously approved, which suggests that none of the people involved take a long term interest in the future of the city.
Given trends in energy use and climate change, both short term and long term, railways will be crucial to the economic future of large cities.
There are many indicators which our councillors and planners are ignoring. I hope that the councillors responsible are equally ignored by voters in the future.