When late last year the sole practitioner GP at Barton Surgery Plymstock handed back his NHS contract overnight, it created a real challenge for those responsible for the provision of primary care services in this area and massive disruption for many of its patients.
The abrupt decision followed a very stark report from the Care Quality Commission requiring a significant number of issues in the practice to be corrected to ensure patient safety.
In these unprecedented circumstances, the local Clinical Commissioning Group(CCG) acted swiftly to put together a plan to protect patients. With only a handful of slip-ups every patient received a letter quickly telling them where to go to register to continue their care, either in Yealmpton, Prince Rock or St. Judes. Many of you have told me in recent weeks of the unfortunate impact on your lives of these challenging circumstances.
It is not acceptable for people living in Plymstock not to be able to access high quality primary care services in Plymstock. I have spoken to the Health Secretary about this and he completely agrees. Last Friday I had a meeting with representatives of the CCG and the Clinical Director for the Mewstone Primary Care Network to discuss plans to put in place the right level of service. I left that meeting re-assured that a serious plan was being explored.
Let me say what is not going to happen: We will not see Barton Surgery re-open as a GP’s practice. We will not see a new stand-alone GP parachuted in to replace the previous one.
The proposals now being considered are for a new expanded health-and-community hub to be put together in Plymstock with the two existing practices collaborating together, new premises being found and additional services being provided from that same centre, some health related, others not. This would be such a superb outcome for Plymstock that I am throwing my weight fully behind it – not least by pursuing extra funding from government for this kind of project.
I take my mum sometimes to her all-singing all-dancing GP surgery in Paignton. It is superb. I am determined that we will have such a centre of excellence in Plymstock – and elsewhere in the constituency as circumstances permit.
Naturally this will not be put together overnight. There will hopefully be some interim improvements on the ground as the plan is carefully put together.
But out of a sow’s ear might yet come a silk purse.