Outrage after GP surgery left with half a day's GP cover a week
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 07:37 20 December 2019
Patients in a deprived area of Weston are increasingly concerned about their lack of access to a GP, with just one doctor supporting thousands of people with complex physical and mental health issues.
Over the past few months, patients using Horizon Health Centre, in Lonsdale Avenue, have complained about the surgery closing early due to a lack of staff, inability to see or talk to a doctor, prescription delays and long waits to have the flu jab.
A GP is based at the surgery for half a day each week, following a decision by Healthcare UK to reduce the medical centre's by 50 per cent last October.
The health centre is in one of the most deprived areas of the country and councillors say the lack of provision is 'outrageous'.
North Somerset councillor, Ian Parker, said: "The service at Horizon has increasingly only had one locum GP and is now down to a GP for half a day during the week. Other regular GPs and experienced staff have left the service in the past 12 months.
"It has created a downward spiral of morale and more importantly clinical safety."
He added: "A large number of Horizon patients have lives affected by poverty, unemployment, social isolation resulting in really high and unusual health needs.
"These include much higher and a greater accumulation of mental health problems than other areas and multiple conditions.
"It requires a highly skilled and co-ordinated team not only to meet their needs but to not miss conditions such as complex cancers which could be overlooked by a half a day GP working under considerable strain."
The Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) apologised for the 'poor experience' and said it is working with Pier Health to ensure the practice continues to provide 'safe and effective services'.
Cllr Parker added: "A half a day GP falls far short of providing the medical service so badly needed."
A CCG spokesman said: "We have agreed a number of actions with the practice to help them achieve this, including bringing in extra resources which will allow the practice to double the number of GP appointments available."
The CCG confirmed the practice will provide more administrative support to ensure repeat prescriptions and test results are managed in a more timely way.
A Push Doctor consultation service will be introduced in the new year, which enables people to talk to a medic via video link.