Report by James Franklin , Reporter
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
CONTROVERSIAL plans to close two Weston GP surgeries have drawn a lukewarm response from councillors, only weeks after the move attracted negative feedback from patients.
A committee of North Somerset Council representatives discussed the changes, which would see the GP practices at Weston General Hospital and the Boulevard close, at a meeting on Friday.
At the health overview and scrutiny panel meeting representatives of NHS North Somerset, which has proposed the changes, said that some walk-in nurse and GP-led services could still be retained in the town centre.
The plans – first announced in the Mercury earlier this year – would mean that 1,088 patients would be forced to register at other practices.
Feedback from patients has been largely negative, with more than 70 per cent of people who replied to the consultation saying they were unhappy with the changes.
At the meeting, councillor Mike Bell said: “We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that some of the central areas of Weston this practice serves are some of the most deprived areas in the South West and we ought to be doing a lot more to address these health inequalities.
“I think there is no comparison between health services offered in the town centre and in South Ward.”
Committee chairman Reyna Knight said: “Everything has a ripple effect, and it could create problems for people trying to get a doctor’s appointment.”
Councillors also said they were concerned of the impact that the changes could have on disadvantaged people in the town centre, who might find it difficult to register at a new location.
Jeanette George, of NHS North Somerset, said: “There is a small cohort of 300 people who could be impacted here so we have been working with the practices to see how we can respond to their needs to make sure they are not disadvantaged.
“This could involve more home visits for people who can’t get to the new service.
“The Boulevard could also have some nurse and GP-led services.”
The plans will be further deliberated by NHS bosses before a final decision on whether to implement them is taken.