A fifth of the patients from a Blyth GP surgery, whose closure was announced in the summer, have not yet registered with a new family doctor.
As previously reported, Collingwood Medical Group, based at Blyth Health Centre, shut its doors on Friday, November 30, following ‘significant difficulties with regard to a number of issues, most notably in recruitment’. The contract was not re-tendered.
The practice was part of Northumbria Primary Care (NPC), a wholly-owned subsidiary company of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust that was set up in 2015.
At the recent meeting of the governing body of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), it was revealed that around 1,000 of Collingwood’s 5,000 patients haven’t yet registered elsewhere.
However, the governing body’s lay chairman, Janet Guy, explained that they had been given assurances that all of the vulnerable patients are now registered with other practices.
She said: “The primary care commissioning group has been following this in detail and a lot of work and resources have gone into this. Additional financial resources have gone into the practices which have to accommodate extra patients.
“It’s a very undesirable situation, but it has been handled as well as we could.
“The important thing is the work that’s coming out on lessons learned and sharing that with other CCGs, because it’s by no means just a Northumberland problem.”
The report to the meeting stated that the closure as well as ‘the dispersal of nearly 5,000 patients and consequent absorption into neighbouring practice lists has been a complex process which remains ongoing’.
It continued: ‘Every effort has been made by CCG staff throughout the process both to ensure that patients safely transition to new practices and that receiving practices remain sustainable.
‘The CCG, with input from all key stakeholders, will produce a lessons learned paper to share across the system in an effort to mitigate the possibility of further closures or, if not possible, effectively manage closures to absolutely minimise the effect on patients and practice staff.
‘Lessons learned to date in 2018-19 include: Early identification of pressures experienced is vital; open communication and opportunity provided to discuss issues honestly and transparently; joint planning of mitigations between the practice and the CCG; solution-focused approach.’
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service