Village branch surgery can close but medical centre must develop action plan

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Permission has been granted for the closure of the Rosliston branch surgery of Stapenhill Medical Centre on the grounds of patient safety and because the branch is no longer sustainable.

The Medical Centre will now be asked to commit to developing an action plan and work with East Staffordshire CCG to ensure improvements are made in a number of areas.

The application to close the branch was considered by the Primary Care Commissioning Committee (PCCC) of East Staffordshire CCG in a meeting which was held in public and attended by approximately 20 local people.

The branch, which formerly operated with a single GP in the mornings only, has been closed since September 2018 due to flooding and associated health risks.

A detailed report highlighted:

  • Staffing issues, with GPs being reluctant to work at Rosliston as “sole working” is unpopular and not considered best practice. This has led to unsatisfactory levels of continuity of care.
  • Repeated IT problems making it difficult to access patient records which also raises issues about patient safety.
  • The small branch is not compatible with GPs working as part of multidisciplinary teams.
  • Underfloor piping has caused two floods and needs to be replaced, with the heating system and windows also in need of replacement. The estimated cost would be £40,000.

The report also highlighted other problems such as a lack of privacy for patients.

Lynne Smith, Chair of the PCCC said: “We have considered all sides of this argument and completely understand the depth of feeling among the people of Rosliston who wish to retain the branch. It was a finely balanced decision, but we have had to conclude that the evidence shows the branch is unsustainable, and it is ultimately not in the best interests of patients for it to remain open.

“Patient safety has to come first. There is a national shortage of GPs and maintaining Rosliston is not helping the medical centre’s attempts to recruit, and IT problems also makes patient records and other electronic communications difficult to access.  

“The building is also not suitable for the multi-disciplinary practices that are part of the plans to improve patient care.   However, given that it was such a finely balanced decision, there are a number of valid issues that were raised by patients and the public where we will be expecting to see improvements to benefit patients.  This will form the action plan.”

The PCCC was told that money saved will be invested in the Stapenhill surgery which has also received an improvement grant to create a further clinical room.

Patients already have access to a wider range of services, at a wider range of times at the Stapenhill site, which means that many patients who live in Rosliston were already using Stapenhill before the flood closure.  The meeting was also told that there had been no patient safety issues reported while the branch surgery had been closed.

Lynn Millar, the CCG’s Director of Primary Care said: “We have acknowledged that the initial engagement that the medical centre carried out with patients was not good enough, and we will work with the practice to ensure their overall communication with patients improves.

“We shall also be working with them on an action plan that will include improving car parking at Stapenhill, ensuring more clinical spaces are available, improving telephone access and better use of IT including making Skype consultations possible.”

The meeting heard that the distance between the two sites is approximately three miles. Those Rosliston patients who cannot make the journey will receive appropriate home visits.

The full report to the PCCC can be accessed on East Staffordshire CCG’s website.