Anger as up to 11,000 patients affected by changes to two Sunderland GP surgeries

Church View Medical Centre, Silksworth, Sunderland

Church View Medical Centre, Silksworth, Sunderland

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Up to 11,000 patients could be affected by the merging of two Sunderland GP surgeries just yards from each other.

Church View Medical Centre and Colliery Medical Group, based next door at Silksworth Health Centre, will no longer provide GP services from October.

Coun Phil Tye.

Coun Phil Tye.

NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is now looking to find a replacement to take over the services, which will be merged into one practice.

However, the CCG has reassured patients that they can continue to use existing services as normal ahead of the changes.

Dr Ian Pattison, a local GP and Chair of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The current providers at Church View and Colliery Medical Centre have notified us that they no longer wish to provide GP services after September 30, 2017, which means that we will need to seek a new provider.

“I would like to reassure patients that they do not need to take any action, as they can continue to access services at the two practices as normal.

It’s totally unacceptable for people to find out in this way – It is having a massive impact here

Coun Phil Tye, Silksworth Ward

“We will be writing to patients to provide further information.

“Part of our role is to ensure that there are local GP services in the area, and we will now start the process of finding a new provider to continue the service after October 1.

“In the meantime, we will work closely with the current providers to ensure that quality primary care services continue to be delivered.

“Because the two practices are in a similar situation and located so close to each other, we would like to take the opportunity to merge the two contracts together. This would attract more potential providers because it offers more flexibility to deliver a high quality service.”

In a letter to patients, dated March 17, Sunderland CCG deputy chief officer Debbie Burnicle states: “I am writing to anyone in your household who uses either Church View Medical Centre or Colliery Medical Group to update you on important information in relation to GP services currently provided in these practices.

“Please make sure you share this with everyone in your home that uses the practices.

“Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for ensuring there are local GP services in your area.

“All GP practices in England and Wales hold a contract to deliver health care to local patients in the community.

“The current providers have notified us that they no longer wish to provide GP services after September 30, 2017, which means that we will need to seek a new provider.

“Because both GP practices are in a similar situation, and they are located next door to each other, we plan to merge the two contracts together.

“This should attract more potential providers because of the increased patient list size and therefore the opportunity to use the joint resources more flexibility in order to deliver a high quality GP service.

“You do not need to take any action. You can continue to access the practice as normal and we will keep you informed as the developments progress.

“We will also work closely with the current providers to ensure that quality primary care services continue to be delivered, and we have started the process of seeking a new provider to be in place from October 1, 2017.”

The letter also gives the details of Healthwatch, which provides independent advice at www.healthwatchsunderland.com

However, according to Silksworth Ward Coun Phil Tye the GGC’s reassurance has come too late for many residents.

Coun Tye said he has been inundated with calls from worried patients after they heard rumours about the future of their surgeries.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful,” he said.

“We attended a meeting three to four weeks ago with the CCG and nothing was said.”

City Hospitals Sunderland, which runs Church View Medical Practice, said: “The Trust has made the decision at this point in time to no longer provide GP services as it wishes to focus on its strategic objective of ensuring high quality and sustainable hospital services, in partnership with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.

“We are working very closely with Sunderland CCG and NHS England colleagues to ensure there will be minimal disruption to both patients and staff working in the practice whilst the process for re-provision of the service is undertaken.”