They will ease the burden

PETER Maitland s recent letter against the proposed merger of Wrington and Churchill surgeries might warrant serious scrutiny but for its total absence of any relevant facts, so perhaps I can help.

PETER Maitland's recent letter against the proposed merger of Wrington and Churchill surgeries might warrant serious scrutiny but for its total absence of any relevant facts, so perhaps I can help.

The acknowledged future of GP surgeries is for larger, centralised and more cost-effective facilities. They will ease the burden on local hospitals, offer more patient choice, incorporate advances in modern medical practice and cope with the growing needs of an ageing population. It makes no economic sense for Wrington Vale Medical Practice to maintain two separate sites (three, including their district nurses) within three miles of each other, with all the resulting duplication and wastage.

Our GPs tell us that both sites are now inadequate to provide the required modern standards of multi-disciplinary treatment, disabled access, infection control, patient privacy and so on. Alteration and extension works are not a serious option as they are inherently more expensive than new-builds. And medical services would have to be maintained in temporary premises during reconstruction, adding even more to costs. Also, vehicle access and parking on both current sites are poor, cannot be improved and would worsen with expansion. So, if it's not feasible to maintain two surgeries, what about developing just one as a principal facility? But that's not so simple either.

Churchill surgery cannot expand to become the main site as it is only leasehold and the parish council refuses to sell the land. Any specialist developer partner (now the proven norm in such projects) would only consider a freehold arrangement. And Wrington surgery doesn't fare much better. According to our GPs, a new building would need to be four times larger to provide the full range of activities and services now demanded for primary care, and the present location is just not big enough. The only nearby land available for expansion is the 'Glebe Land' which is doubly protected against development, both as an existing playground space and an area of high civic amenity value - all set within an official Conservation Area.


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It is a fact that NHS spending will be cut by �15-20bn from 2012. Any available funds for new projects will dry up after then. I am utterly astounded by the short-sightedness of the Wrington refusniks' campaign. We all have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise and guarantee our local medical services that cannot be missed, not just for now but for the next 30 years.

IAN PITCH

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Church Road

Winscombe

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