One of the things a CCG is supposed to do when a GP retires/resigns and a practice is under threat of closure, is to look at the possibility of keeping the practice open.
The standard method here is to rent the surgery from whoever owns it, and put in interim GPs as care takers until they can find someone more permanent to take over the practice.
In our case, the CCG are saying this will not be considered.
Public consultation is often employed as a method of looking into whether this method of keeping surgeries in the community open is viable. This has not been done either.
The party line is that:
Our surgery is too small – Actually the physical building is large, and could certainly stand at least one more GP in it. In terms of numbers, we know our GP was operating at over optimum capacity, so there are patients to fill the surgery. We are also one of the rare practices with a practice nurse. These are all assets that could be built on, even if the GP decides to retire/resign.
Our numbers are dispersed over a wide area and so it is not worth keeping a surgery open in the area – I would argue that with this being the third closure in the area in two months, and as we keep saying, with more to come, that with our own numbers, there are more than enough patients wanting care to keep a surgery open and indeed grow it.
Our GP has now said he is going, no matter what. We accept that. We always said we would not force him to stay. We quite understand that he has had enough.
It does seem inexplicable though that the CCG are allowing it. Given that he will almost certainly stay in the area and will continue to work as a GP in a city that is crying out for GPs.
One of the concerns of our GP was that if he did not make a definitive statement to say he was going, patients would not register elsewhere.
In the weeks since his initial resignation letter, only 500 patients have re-registered. This leaves nearly 2000 of us still registered at his surgery.
It has been inferred in some circles, that we are campaigning for people to stay at the surgery so that this will put pressure on the CCG to keep the practice open.
It has been inferred in other circles, that we SHOULD do this, because it will put pressure on the CCG to keep the practice open.
All the way through our campaign we have been open about what we want to do and how we want to achieve it. We are being so open in fact, that the CCG are active members on our Facebook page.
We understand that in certain circles it is considered entirely appropriate to let a GP overload his/her surgery with patients so that they can make enough money to hire more GPs, whilst the patients suffer. We have already written about this, and indeed, what an abhorrent practice it is.
Why then, would we think it was appropriate to put the very people we are trying to protect, the very people that we actually are, at risk, by telling them not to register with a new GP?
Well, the answer to that is that we would not.
Anyone who doubts it need only scroll through the Facebook page to see that we have actually gone on record to say that we will not advise any patient to do anything that might put their health or their family’s health at risk. We have said numerous times that we do not have the right to play with people’s lives, even if other interested parties think this is appropriate.
We absolutely, categorically refuse to do this.
We have had in depth discussions about what other surgeries are being offered to us and we have tried to help people who have approached us who have had problems registering with new surgeries. We have been on the radio, talking about the fact that even though we are trying to register, surgeries aren’t willing to take us.
We are not making this up. The CCG had to go on the radio last week to say that every patient of Dr. Lenten’s who is taken on by another practice will be given a £20 bonus per patient. They are having to bribe their own GPs to take us.
It is not for the want of trying that we are not registering.
Even so, we do have active members of our campaign who are already registered with and seeing other GPs, and yet who are STILL fighting for our surgery to remain open. That is how strongly people feel about this.
It was suggested to me that the CCG are deliberately dragging their heels over this campaign so that patient numbers still registered at the surgery drop to 1000. This is the golden mean at which they can then say that the surgery is not fit to remain open.
This makes rather a mockery of their assertion that with 2,400 of us, the surgery is not viable in terms of numbers to bother about keeping open.
I would never, ever suggest that patients not be registered with a GP. I would never suggest that this would be a good way of running a campaign. This is not what our campaign is about and it never, ever will be.
Our campaign is about the patients, us, and how we are cared for, and the more I learn about this situation, the more I realise that genuinely caring about what happens to patients is a rare and precious thing, and that makes it more important than ever that we put patient welfare at the forefront of everything we do.
It looks like nobody else is going to bother.