Local News

Surgery to close leaving 5700 without a GP

Monday 14 October 2019

A public meeting will take place this coming Wednesday following the shock announcement that the Ware Road Surgery is to close at the end of March 2020, potentially leaving over 5000 patients without a doctor.

The meeting has been organised by the surgery’s patient participation group and will take place on Wednesday 16th October at 6pm at the Methodist Church Hall in Ware Road, with all patients being invited to attend.

The closure of the practice was announced last week by the local NHS Care Commissioning Group.

A letter issued by the East & North Hertfordshire CCQ explained:

The GP services at Ware Surgery are provided by a company called Generating Healthcare (GHC). The contract is due to finish on 31st March 2020. Following discussions between the CCG and GHC, the contract provided from Ware Road Surgery will not be renewed from 1st April 2020.

The letter goes on to explain what the decision means for patients and why the decision has been made:

The CCG has not taken this decision lightly and are aware that many patients have been registered at this surgery for many years. We also know that with Ware Road Surgery operating temporarily from Castlegate Surgery, it has been an unsettling period for many of the patients and staff. A lot of consideration has been made about what should happen when discontinuation of a contract is being planned, and whether other options could be considered.

After reviewing all possible options the CCG have agreed with GHC that the best option for the patients of Ware Road Surgery is to close the practice at the end of March 2020.

The letter ends by advising that "We will write in the next two months with the next steps for patients to take".

The practice was rated as Requiring Improvement in a report following an inspection last December (2018). Operation of the surgery is outsourced to a Buntingford based private company Generating Healthcare Ltd. The report noted a number of concerns about the practice, including:

  • The practice did not have clear and effective processes for managing risks, issues and performance in some areas.
  • Some receptionists had not been given guidance on identifying deteriorating or acutely unwell patients.
  • The practice did not have appropriate systems in place for the safe management of emergency medicines.
  • The practice was unable to show that all staff members had the training to carry out their roles effectively.
  • The practice was unable to demonstrate how personal development plans were periodically monitored and reviewed for all staff members.
  • The practice did not have a formal system in place to ensure clinicians were up-to-date with the latest clinical guidelines.
  • The overall governance arrangements were ineffective.
  • The practice did not have clear and effective processes for managing risks, issues and performance.

The practice does not employ any GP partners or salaried GPs. The team is led by a long-term locum GP who provides clinical sessions five days a week. The practice has four regular locum GPs. 

The surgery has been shared premises with Castlegate Surgery since April

The Ware Road premises used by the surgery closed in March this year and patients relocated to Castlegate Surgery, where they have been sharing facilities for the last six months. Patients were told that the relocation would be temporary until a new NHS facility could be provided in the redeveloped Bircherley Green shopping centre - a project that has since fallen through.

District Councillor and Mayor of Hertford Rosemary Bolton (Con, Kingsmead) commented "I am saddened to hear the news about Ware Road Surgery.  It is very disappointing that there is no GP surgery in the east of the town and it will have an impact on local residents. I am aware that the NHS is actively seeking new premises in Hertford to accommodate a new GP surgery".

The news comes after new figures showed that some 15 million people were forced to wait more than 28 days to see their GP in the 12 months to August. A similar number waited between 22 and 28 days while a higher number were only seen between 15 and 21 days. Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association's GP committee, said the future of the NHS was hanging in the balance amid a "chronic lack of resources".

Local councillors and MP Mark Prisk have been approached for comment.

This story was updated at 18:58 to include comment from Cllr Rosemary Bolton.

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