MEMBER of Parliament for Gosport, Dame Caroline Dinenage, has highlighted concerns about access to GP services in the constituency with Secretary of State for Health Steve Barclay.
Her intervention today, Tuesday, January 24, comes after the news this month that Bury Road Surgery may close due to the lead practitioner, Dr Carl Anandan, retiring without a replacement available, and that Gosport Medical Centre will be merging with the Willow Group for similar reasons.
Dame Caroline raised the issue with the Minister to push the government to ensure adequate primary care services were provided for the Gosport area.
Speaking in Questions to the Department of Health and Social Care, she said: “Since the beginning of January, Gosport patients have learnt that one of our GP practices is threatened with closure, while another is about to merge with an already very subscribed group of practices.
“Partners are retiring with no replacements. Will the Secretary of State please confirm what he is doing to ensure that my constituents in Gosport can access a GP, and will he please meet with me to discuss it?”
Mr Barclay said in response to the question: “We are investing more than a fifth compared to 2016 as part of our wider investment programme.
“I’m very keen to work with her and her ICB, who were operationally set up last summer for the commissioning of primary care for the community to assess what are the needs of Gosport constituents.”
After the debate, Dame Caroline said: “Constituents are rightfully concerned about recent proposals to close Bury Road Surgery, and the merger of Gosport Medical Centre with the Willow Group.
“I am pleased that the Secretary of State is willing to work with myself to encourage Hampshire & Isle of Wight ICB to find solutions on this important issue. I will continue fight for my constituents to be able to have access to a GP when they need one.”
Meanwhile, patients have now been informed of plans for Gosport Medical Centre to become part of the Willow Group.
If the merger goes ahead, the newly merged practice would be operated in partnership with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which currently works in partnership with the Willow Group. It would create one of the largest practices in Hampshire with around 49,000 registered patients.
The proposed merger has been approved by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, subject to certain assurances, including ensuring that staff and patients have been engaged with. The practices are currently engaging with their staff, patients, Patient Participation Groups and the local community.
The practices are also inviting patients to take part in an online patient survey which is also on the websites. The results will be used to inform future planning and provide themes for patient drop-in sessions that will be arranged to discuss the merger. Hard copies of the survey will also be available at all five practice sites.
And in a statement issued on Monday, January 23, Keeley Ellis Locality Director, Primary Care, said: “The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board (ICB) can confirm that we received the resignation from the GP partner at Bury Road for his contract to deliver General Medical Services just before Christmas.
“A resignation of this nature means the ICB needs to ensure that patients are still able to access GP services from another practice and that is why we wrote to patients in December.
“Since then, things have moved on and we are now in a contractual process with the practice which means we haven’t been able to write to you about options for the future. We have been meeting regularly with Dame Caroline Dinenage MP on potential solutions and last week both the ICB and the Practice representatives met with Gosport Borough Council.
“We are in talks about how we might allow more time to find a viable option as there are a number of complexities to the situation which need full discussion. We recognise this is unsettling for patients and apologise for any undue alarm or concern.
“As part of this it is important to seek your views and provide you the opportunity to feedback regarding how you use this service and we would therefore be grateful if you could complete a survey using the following link: https://mysay.is/BuryRoad
“We would also like to offer you the opportunity to meet with us. We have set up a virtual meeting online on 8th February 2023 at 6.30pm. Please click the link below to join on the evening:”
“> Join Zoom Meeting – 8th February, 6.30pm (MeetingID: 82945051862, Passcode: 010701)”
“An in-person meeting will be held on February 9, 9am to 2.30pm (this is a drop in event so please feel free to arrive at any point during these hours) at: Thorngate Hall, Bury Road, Gosport, PO12 3PX”
“We appreciate this is far from ideal for patients, and we would ask you to take no action until you hear from us. It will be business as usual at Bury Road for now and we plan to write to you with the next steps as soon as we can. The surgery will continue to be open for all its patients who need appointments or want to access other services. We would also respectfully ask patients to please respect the situation of all the staff who work at Bury Road for whom this is a particularly worrying time.”
PICTURED BY KEVIN RICHARDS: NHS staff forming a picket outside the Gosport War Memorial Hospital last week as part of their campaign for better pay and conditions. Both the Bury Road Surgery and Gosport Medical Centre share the same site.