Politicians and residents have hit out in anger after it was announced two Lincoln GP surgeries would be among four to close in the county.
As reported earlier this week, Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced it would be closing four GP surgeries in the county after it failed to find a new provider for them.
Arboretum Surgery and Burton Road Surgery, both in Lincoln, Metheringham Surgery and Pottergate Surgery, in Gainsborough, will all close on January 7, 2017.
By then, at least 11,000 patients registered at the practices will have to find alternative providers.
Universal Health, which was brought in to manage the four practices in 2015, asked the NHS to take over its contract in July after it fell into financial difficulties.
The CCG had sought to secure long-term providers, but although applications were received and evaluated, none of the bids met the minimum criteria.
Letters have now been sent to all patients telling them they will need to register with a nearby GP.
There have been a number of campaigns and meetings in recent years to ensure services were continued at the two Lincoln locations, particularly Burton Road Surgery.
Extra pressure on waiting times?
Conservative Member of Parliament for Lincoln and Labour county councillor Robert Parker have spoken out in agreement that extra pressure should be put on NHS officials
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has expressed “complete frustration” at the decision, stating he will be raising concerns with the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.
Karl has called on the CCG to publicly guarantee that waiting times for doctors appointments in Lincoln, citing concerns for the knock-on effect the absorption of 5,500 extra patients will have on doctor’s waiting times.
MP Karl McCartney said: “It is deeply disappointing that a long term provider for these two vital GP surgeries has not been found.
“I greatly fear there will be a knock-on effect that makes it harder for everyone in Lincoln to see a doctor as quickly as they might wish to, and should do.
“Our city is growing because of its success as a place to live and work, and the indigenous population is generally growing older.
“We need more GP provision, not less, so these closures have to be met with increased capacity in existing surgeries.
“This is why the Clinical Commissioning Group must reassure patients and taxpayers by publicly pledging that these closures will not lead to longer waiting times. I await their public reassurance with interest.”
Labour councillor Robert Parker said: “A change of GP surgery will be disruptive and even upsetting for many of these patients and that needs to be recognised.
“I am very disappointed with the decision taken by the local NHS officials to close the Burton Road surgery and at such short notice. It is very important that action is taken to protect the interests of patients at that surgery.
“Accordingly I have asked County Councillor Christine Talbot, the Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, to arrange for us both to meet as soon as possible with Richard Childs, the Chair of Lincolnshire West CCG, and Sarah Newton, the Chief Operating Officer of Lincolnshire West CCG.
“The National Health Service in Lincolnshire must do all it can to make sure that alternative arrangements are put in place very quickly.”
‘We already struggle to get appointments’
Local resident Julia Mannion said: “Please spare a thought for the local surgeries that will now be inundated with thousands of registration requests. They have had only days of notice that this was happening so very little time to prepare.”
Sheila Hewson added: “If it’s difficult to get an appointment now, it’ll be even worse if these surgeries have to take on hundreds or thousands of new patients after these closures. Disgusting!”
Sarah-Jane Mills, director for service development and delivery at Lincolnshire West CCG, said in a statement previously: “In these regrettable circumstances, we have no alternative but to close the practices.
“But patients must absolutely be assured they have the full support of the CCG to help them choose an alternative practice to register with. Ultimately, it is the patients’ choice.
“There is at least one alternative option at each of the closing practices that is within 0.2 miles of where patients currently are.”