Committee asks NHS to look again at GP practice plans

A committee is asking the NHS to revisit its proposals which might lead to the closure of a GP practice in Plymouth.

A number of GP surgery contracts in Plymouth are up for renewal in March 2017. Plymouth City Council’s Wellbeing Select Committee met on Thursday 6 October 2016 to discuss proposals by NHS England not to re-procure a service being delivered through the Cumberland surgery. The committee also discussed proposals around St Barnabas Surgery, Hyde Park Surgery, Ernesettle Surgery (covering Ernesettle, Mount Gould, and Trelawny surgeries) and proposals for a new practice at Barne Barton. Options around Saltash Road were also discussed.

The Committee has asked NHS England to explore further options on re-procuring the service at the Cumberland Surgery, and also asked for more information on the other practices. They heard a number of representations from interested parties including local patients, Healthwatch, representatives of patient participation groups, Dr Ayres from the Cumberland Surgery, and Plymouth’s Interim Director of Public Health, Dr Ruth Harrell.

Councillor Mary Aspinall, Chair of Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “We welcome plans for a new primary care centre at Barne Barton as this area has need for such a service, however, as a Committee we are deeply concerned that NHS England have said they plan not to re-procure the Cumberland Surgery. We would ask NHS England and all its partners to look again at how this surgery can be re-procured.”

Councillor David James said: “It is essential that we continue to tackle health inequalities in this area and that is why we believe the Cumberland Surgery needs to be re-procured. Some of the city’s most vulnerable people use the surgery, including homeless people, and if they do not have access to this vital service this will have an impact on Accident and Emergency and Ambulance services, so it is a false economy to close it.”

Councillor Lynda Bowyer, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, who put forward the motion calling for the meeting, said: “This is a complex issue and it is extremely important that the solutions formed are based on the needs of the population, take their views clearly into account and will deliver the outcomes we require for the people of Plymouth both in terms of health and wellbeing and patient experience. We are urging NHS England to reconsider their plans.”

Recommendations by the Committee include:

  • Services delivered for the Cumberland Surgery are essential in the battle against health inequalities, which Plymouth City Council is committed to addressing.
  • NHS England should make all attempts to re-procure the current service being delivered through the Cumberland Surgery.
  • NHS England should work in partnership with Northern, Eastern and Western Clinical Commissioning Group, Plymouth City Council, Peninsula Medical School and local providers to investigate how sustainable services to tackle health inequalities in the area may be delivered.
  • NHS England should consider “lessons learned” from the recent consultation experience.
  • Plans for the future of primary care services should be considered at the Health and Wellbeing Board to check alignment against the Plymouth Plan.

In addition, the Committee is recommending to the Council’s Cabinet to add the crisis in recruitment to General Practice to the ‘Plymouth Ask’, to encourage the Council to lobby central government on this issue.