NHS criticised over GP surgery closure

PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 June 2014

Cllr Roz Willis is pleased the IRP report has listened to the council's concerns.

Cllr Roz Willis is pleased the IRP report has listened to the council's concerns.

Archant

THE controversial closure of a doctors’ surgery in Weston will not be reviewed by the Government.

NHS England’s decision to shut the Boulevard surgery last September provoked an angry response from North Somerset Council members but calls for the Department of Health (DoH) to look into the move have been unsuccessful.

The authority’s appeal was looked at by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) which said a full review by health secretary Jeremy Hunt was ‘not suitable’.

But it did call for ‘urgent’ liaising between the council and the NHS to ensure hundreds of patients are not detrimentally affected by the Boulevard practice’s closure.

Cllr Roz Willis, who chairs the council’s health overview and scrutiny panel (HOSP), said: “While we note the decision not to undertake a full review of the closure of the Boulevard services, we are delighted that the work done by the panel has been taken into account, and the pressure put on NHS England to work with partners to deliver services.”

IRP’s report criticised NHS England, in part, for the way it handled the closure.

When NHS England ruled a walk-in centre at the Boulevard was no longer needed in 2012, the plan was to retain a GP surgery there.

Harmoni, who ran the site, was unhappy with the plans and announced it would pull out, forcing NHS England to look for a new partner to move into the Boulevard.

Initial interest from private parties failed to materialise into any concrete offers and NHS England conceded in August 2013 the surgery would close the very next month – drawing criticism form HOSP over the short amount of warning it and patients had received.

In February, the full council committee backed HOSP’s stance and wrote to the DoH asking for it to look into NHS England’s decision-making process.

IRP, during its own review, agreed NHS England should have handled it better.

Lord Bernard Ribeiro, IRP’s chairman, concluded: “It would appear that, in this instance, there was both a misplacing of documentation relating to the procurement exercise and a lack of understanding of the need to keep the HOSP informed and involved.”

Cllr Willis said focus now had to turn to helping the 300 patients who have not re-registered since the surgery closed.

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