Clinical commissioning group defends closure of Bexley surgery
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 October 2018
NHS bosses have defended the decision to close a popular doctors’ surgery in Belvedere after a councillor aired serious concerns over the loss of facilities.
Cairngall Medical Centre will stop offering GP services next March following a row with the landlord over tenancy length.
Belvedere councillor Dave Putson said he was concerned negotiations with the landlord were too brief for a process that would impact 9,000 patients.
He said: “I believe that the clinical commissioning group (CCG) should be attempting to keep the Cairngall medical practice open and be continuing negotiations until the very last opportunity.
“The CCG should work on a detailed plan of action to secure the future medical needs of the remaining 7,000 patients, and this practice, rather than the perceived abrogation of their responsibility at the very first problem, as part of ongoing negotiations.
“I don’t think I am alone in believing that the closures of GP surgeries in general are a political decision with an underlying objective of diminishing NHS services to encourage a grudging acceptance of a privatising agenda for the NHS and that the closure, specifically of the Cairngall Medical Practice, would be just one more step along this route.”
After one of its doctors stopped providing services in January of this year, a temporary practice provided by Belvedere Medical Centre was put in place at Cairngall.
It was intended for GP services to continue long-term, but the landlord of the site did not commit to this proposal.
As a result, it was announced the practice will stop offering GP services from next March.
A spokesman for the CCG – the body that oversees local medical facilities – defended the closure, adding that patients will be absorbed by other practices.
They said: “A decision to close a practice is only taken when no other viable option is available, and NHS Bexley CCG’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee was left with no choice when the landlord could not guarantee the premises would be available for the required length of time to issue a contract to a new provider.
“This was after many months of negotiations with the landlords.
“NHS Bexley CCG has kept the Bexley Council, the chair of the relevant scrutiny committee, and local councillors informed throughout, and our primary care team will continue to keep an open dialogue with patients registered with Cairngall, in order to offer support where necessary. The team will also hold patient engagement events for registered patients.
“Collectively, the GP practices local to Cairngall have assured us they have capacity for an additional 14,000 patients, which is substantially more than the number of patients that will need to be dispersed.”
Recent statistics show that nearly a third of patients seeking an appointment with their family doctor in Bexley had to wait a week or more.
Of the patients replying to the NHS’s annual GP survey, 31 per cent had to wait a week or more to see a GP or nurse last time they booked an appointment. Five years ago, just 15 per cent had to wait that long.