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GP crisis in Melksham?

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MELKSHAM has more patients per GP compared to the average figure for Wiltshire according to  the NHS.

And this number looks set to rise with new housing development increasing the town’s population and no current plans to build a new GP surgery in the area.

The figures have been obtained from NHS Digital by Melksham News following concerns that there would not be enough GPs in the town to support Melksham’s growing population if the proposed closure of St  Damian’s Surgery had gone ahead.

Despite the application to close St Damian’s being turned down last month by the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), figures show that Melksham’s GPs have a higher number of patients compared to others in Wiltshire.

According to the most recent NHS digital figures from September 2018, a  full-time equivalent (FTE) GP in Wiltshire has an average of 1,549 patients. In comparison, Giffords Surgery has 1,764 patients per FTE GP, Spa Medical Practice has 1,663 patients per FTE GP; and BoA&MHP (which manages four sites including St Damian’s Surgery in Melksham) has 1,788 patients per FTE GP.

Currently there is no official recommendation for how many patients a GP should have. This is because the demand each patient places on their GP is different – older patients, young children or people with long-term conditions, will need to see their GPs more than others.

No new campus surgery

In recent years there have been hopes that new development and investment in the area would increase medical provision in Melksham. 

In 2016 Wiltshire Council announced that a new GP surgery would be part of the Melksham Campus development at the Melksham House site. It was originally planned that St Damian’s Surgery would move into the new building.

However, at this month’s Melksham Area Board meeting, the deputy leader of Wiltshire Council, cllr John Thomson, said that this is no longer the case. “We are still very much open to having a GP surgery on site and there is a site reserved for it,” said cllr Thomson. “We are in talks with them (Wiltshire CCG) at the moment, but there is no commitment from the health service to actually fund a building and build one on site.”

Finance & business manager of BoAHMP, who manage St Damian’s Surgery, Ellen Wilson, confirmed to Melksham News, “BoAHMP  have no plans to move into the Melksham Campus space, at this point in time.  Wiltshire CCG is considering the long term GP space requirements in Melksham and are aware of the planned new housing developments, which is why the site remains earmarked as such on the Melksham Blue Pool site.

“Spa, Giffords & BoAMHP practices continue to work to join up other patient services in the Melksham locality through networks, working together to deliver care to our patients, in line with the NHS 10-year vision.   It is possible that the Melksham Campus GP surgery space may form part of this new way of working, but it is far too early at this stage to comment further.”

Wiltshire CCG plans

In response to questions from Melksham News about what is being done to ensure there is an adequate number of GPs serving Melksham, a spokesperson from the Wiltshire CCG said, “Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is committed to ensuring that healthcare services are delivered in a way that meets the needs of people right across Wiltshire.

“We are working closely with the three GP surgeries in Melksham to ensure resilient primary care services remain available to the local community. This will include working with patients, the public and town officials to improve the understanding, relationships and branding of primary care services in Melksham.

“The development of Primary Care Networks is a key way forward for managing demand for GP services across the country, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. The current and future needs of Melksham will be considered as part of this programme of work in Wiltshire.”

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