An application by Glemsford GP Surgery to permanently close its branch in Hartest from August 10 has been approved by the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee.
Surgery partners Dr Matthew Piccaver and Dr Mary Giblin made the decision to apply for closure of the branch following the retirement of their colleague Dr Guy Lesser in March last year.
Dr Lesser has since been replaced by Dr Rosie Frankenberg, who joined the Glemsford surgery team in April.
During this time changes have had to be made to secure and continue the practice’s ability to provide GP and nurse services for a fast growing patient list of over 5,000.
This has included a staff recruitment drive and an operational review to ensure that the surgery’s GPs and clinical staff use their time in the most beneficial way for the whole patient population.
The recommendations of the review, coupled with staff illness issues, resulted in the suspension of services from the Hartest branch in July 2017.
The changes made to the way the practice has worked during the last year have highlighted the benefits of consolidating all resources and services onto one site at Glemsford.
This will enable surgery staff to provide a safe, accessible and timely service for all patients. The practice now has a nurse practitioner, two practice nurses and a health care assistant.
Many services are now provided at the Glemsford surgery including pharmacy, One Life Suffolk health promotion clinics, physiotherapy, a mental health link worker, a social worker, a cognitive behavioural therapist, community matron, consultant geriatrician, health visitors, district and palliative care nurses, dementia support and diabetic eye screening. Healthwatch Suffolk and Suffolk Family Carers also engage with patients on a regular basis.
In order to sustain the practice’s service provision a decision had to be made about the future of the Hartest branch.
A public consultation exercise was carried out between May 1 and June 11 to hear patient and community views and concerns regarding the possible closure of the branch and the future service development at the Glemsford site.
Some Hartest-registered patients said they would be sad to see the surgery permanently close, but the majority understood that consolidating resources at Glemsford would benefit the majority of patients living in a community which is spread across a large rural area.
Up to 500 new houses are planned for Glemsford over the next two to 10 years, equating to approximately 1,500 additional patients.
Dr Giblin said: “We have not made this decision lightly. It is with great sadness that we close the branch surgery at Hartest as it has been part of the practice for so many years. However, demands in primary care have changed and we have to do what is best to provide a high quality and sustainable healthcare service for all our patients, now and into the future.”
The Glemsford Surgery will provide a weekly medication collection service in Hartest Institute in addition to the normal provision of medication delivery services.
The Institute will be open on Wednesdays between noon and 1.30pm. A consent form will be provided to all 900 Hartest registered patients including all 302 who are resident in the village.
It is anticipated the medication collection service will commence from Wednesday, September 5. The practice dispensary will continue to provide a managed script service for repeats.