Senior partner of The Glebe Surgery in Storrington reassured patients at a public consultation held last week that there is capacity at the practice and plans are in place to expand.
David Whitehead attended a public consultation held on Thursday May 15 and Friday May 16 at Storrington Village Hall with two NHS representatives for residents to share any concerns, assess their catchment area, and register at a new practice.
Following the announcement of neighbouring surgery Mill Stream Medical Centre’s imminent closure, Dr Whitehead told the County Times last week that things will be ‘tight’ whilst taking on the Mill Stream patients - 1,500 have registered so far - but plans to expand and merge with other facilities are underway.
More than 4,000 patients of Mill Stream Medical Centre have had to register at either The Glebe Surgery in Monastery Lane or Pulborough Medical Group after the County Times revealed Mill Stream will close on May 31.
Dr Whitehead said: “Over two days we have had people come in wanting to register, but we have had some other people come in just for reassurance that The Glebe Surgery can cope with numbers, and we have got the message across that we have robust plans due to a fantastic effort from our staff and we have now taken on extra staff.”
Maps showing the catchment areas for Storrington, Billingshurst, Pulborough and Steyning were made available for patients to find their closest option, and a list of frequently asked questions and answers were handed out by NHS representatives.
One of the questions on the handout said ‘Was patient safety compromised at Mill Stream?’ and the response stated: “We did not receive sufficient assurance that patients would remain safe and receive medical care of an acceptable and consistent standard.”
Senior partner of Mill Stream Medical Centre Dr Joanna Bailey last week rejected the NHS’s reason for closing the practice and said that her patients had been ‘insulted’. Despite her best efforts to keep the surgery open, Mill Stream in North Street announced on its website that ‘with regret’ it must close.
Dr Whitehead said that the parish and district council have been advising The Glebe Surgery on how it can move ahead in the future, including plans to introduce new services.
“Ultimately accommodation will be tight and we need to focus on a surgery for the future, which allows us to share facilities with a pharmacy and the multi-disciplinary teams’ needs of the doctors, nurses and social workers,” he said.
The surgery currently has 8,200 patients and is implementing specialised portable cabins, new phone lines, computers and additional parking spaces to help cope with the sudden influx, but Dr Whitehead said that Glebe patients have been ‘understanding’.
“There’s been a great deal of understanding from The Glebe patients and an accommodating attitude from the patients of Mill Stream Medical Centre,” he said.
“We want to serve all members of the community whether they’re young, or working, or housebound.
“I think it’s important patients decide which surgery they want to be with and register quite soon.
“It will allow the surgery to plan services for the future,” he said.