NHS England has gone back to the drawing board on its plans to close the Burton Road GP surgery in Lincoln, which will continue to run until June 2015 while a public consultation takes place.
NHS England apologised for “confusing letters” sent to patients and pledged to look into finding a ‘caretaker’ after current providers Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust terminated their contract.
The trust has now agreed to continue running the practice until the public consultation has been completed.
The Lincolnshire division of NHS England has sent letters dated August 4 to all patients currently registered with the surgery to explain this.
Patients are invited to complete a survey to state their preference for one of two options:
- For NHS England to see who might be interested to provide a service to Burton Road Surgery patients: this means that the service may remain the same; could be delivered from different premises, by different staff; or may not continue.
- To close the surgery: NHS England would then help registered patients of Burton Road Surgery to choose another practice in the area.
Patients who have already relocated to other GP surgeries will not be contacted further regarding the future of Burton Road.
There are also three drop-in events to answer any questions taking place at Burton Road Methodist Church on Monday, August 11 (9.30am – 11.30am), Wednesday, August 27 (5.30pm – 7.30pm) and Tuesday, September 9 (1.30pm – 3.30pm).
NHS England in Lincolnshire will consider the findings of the consultation and make a final decision on the future of the surgery by the end of September.
All registered patients of Burton Road Surgery will receive notification of the final decision by letter in October.
A report detailing the feedback received throughout the consultation and how this has informed the final decision will be made public.
Dr David Sharp, Area Director for NHS England in Lincolnshire, said: “We have listened to the views of patients and recognised that we need to consult more fully on the options for the Burton Road Surgery before making a final decision on its future.
“After careful consideration, the contract with LCHS has been extended to allow time for this fuller consultation, the decision-making process, and the steps required to implement the decision.”
“When a contract ends, NHS England is required to review services to determine who would like to provide them or if they are no longer required.
“This is the reason for the consultation and why we are asking patients for their views on how these services can be delivered in the future.”
Dr Sharp added: “I appreciate a number of patients completed a previous survey for us.
“This second survey asks for additional information so we are asking patients to fill this in, even if they completed the previous one, to ensure their views are taken into account.”
“I am asking patients to continue to use Burton Road Surgery as normal and would like to assure them that our priority remains to find the best possible solution for the provision of their services.”
Patients with any queries can contact the NHS England primary care team on 0116 295 0860 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line ‘Burton Road Surgery Consultation’.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, who supported residents in their bid to try and keep the service running, is pleased at the outcome of the decision.
He said: “I am pleased to hear that NHS England have listened to patients and local residents and have taken the decision to launch a consultation on the future of the surgery and also ensure that care services will continue to be run by the current provider until at least June 2015.
“It is very important that Burton Road Surgery’s patients’ views are considered before any final decision is taken in respect of the potential closure of their local GP surgery.
“It has been great to work with fellow patients and local residents and users of the surgery to ensure it remains open and as ever I will seek to ensure my constituents receive the best healthcare provision possible.”
Cllr Chris Brewis, Vice-Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, added: “I’m very pleased to hear the news regarding Burton Road surgery, over which we’ve had two presentations and discussions at the Health Scrutiny Committee.
“It was generally agreed that the matter had been handled in a less than satisfactory way and the level of public interest was shown by the number of affected patients who came to listen to the exchanges in our meetings.
“We were assured that lessons had been learned and such an announcement would not be made in that way again in the future. We can only hope that this good news will go some way to restoring public confidence in the future of the service.
“I hope that sufficient publicity enables those patients who have already transferred to transfer back if that is their wish.”