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ST Damian’s Surgery on Spa Road is facing closure again as the surgery says it cannot continue to provide a service in Melksham due to a lack of resources.
Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership (BoA&MHP), who manage the surgery, have applied to the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to close the surgery by the end of March this year.
Patients have been told that if the closure goes ahead, they will either have to visit the partnership’s other surgery in Bradford-on-Avon or register with Melksham’s remaining GP practices, which are both currently accepting new patients.
The proposal has come under fire with patients claiming that it is already difficult to get a doctor’s appointment in the town.
A previous application to close St Damian’s was rejected last year by the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who stated that they were unable to support the proposal at that time. The application had been made as BoA&MHP had been unable to recruit enough clinicians following the retirement of three full-time GP partners.
Since the refusal by the CCG to close St Damian’s, patients at the surgery have seen its opening hours reduced, with the surgery now only open in the mornings, Monday to Friday, providing only routine doctor and nurse appointments.
BoA&MHP say that the changes were made to provide ‘appropriate clinical and administration hours’ to the Bradford on Avon Health Centre and that a further reduction to the opening hours is likely in mid-January.
Other changes have included the management of registrations and repeat prescriptions moving to the Bradford on Avon Health Centre and all emergency care being provided from the Bradford on Avon Health Centre.
As a result of these changes BoA&MHP say that 20% of St Damian’s patients have moved to the other two GP practices in Melksham and that an increasing number of their Melksham patients are choosing to visit Bradford on Avon for their routine care.
Dr Janice Patrick, senior partner at BoA&MHP said, “This has been a very difficult decision for us to take. Over the past year we have put a lot of measures in place to try and maintain the surgery at St Damian’s, but we find ourselves in a position where we cannot continue to provide a service in Melksham with the resources we have available to us. BoAMHP is keen to continue to provide services to as many of the St Damian’s registered patients as wish to stay with their current GP, however as we do with our Winsley branch surgery patients, they will be asked to travel to Bradford on Avon to receive urgent on the day care as well as our full range of services. Home visits to those patients who are eligible will not be affected, however lack of transport is not a valid reason for a home visit. Those patients unable to travel to Bradford on Avon will not be left without a GP, they should consider registering with one of the other two local Melksham GP practices.
“In the last 12 months, BoA&MHP has been working closely with our colleagues at Giffords Surgery and Spa Medical Centre in the newly formed Melksham & Bradford on Avon Primary Care Network (PCN), expanding on the previous work we had started as a locality. As a Primary Care Network, we will be delivering some aspects of care at scale in the years to come via the PCN, which covers a population across both towns of c.46,800 patients. A wonderful example of working scale across the PCN is the leg ulcer clinics and social café, which take place at Spencer’s Sports & Social Club, Melksham on a Thursday and St Margaret’s Hall, Bradford on Avon on a Monday. Patients from all three practices are seen during these clinics, by Bradford on Avon and Melksham staff, who deliver fantastic clinical outcomes to patients across the Melksham and Bradford on Avon area. Our proposal to close St Damian’s, if successful, would not result in a change to this service run from Spencer’s Sports & Social Club.”
Patients who would like further information about the proposed closure should complete the online questionnaire on the practice website: www.boamhp.co.uk/news.aspx?p=J83030/ or visit one of the four sites managed by BoA&MHP where they will be able to obtain, fill and return the proposed closure consultation questionnaire.