Metheringham GP surgery to close after CCG fails to find new manager

Burton Road Surgery, one of the four GP surgeries to close. EMN-161129-090500001
Burton Road Surgery, one of the four GP surgeries to close. EMN-161129-090500001

Four Lincolnshire GP surgeries including one in Metheringham are to have to close, with patients being asked to register with an alternative practice.

Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group has announced Metheringham Surgery, Arboretum Surgery and Burton Road Surgery, both in Lincoln, and Pottergate Surgery, in Gainsborough, will all close on January 7, 2017 after it failed to secure a long-term provider to take over their management.

The CCG assures patients they will all have an alternative option less than a mile from their current surgery.

In September, the health body along with NHS England, invited applications from interested organisations to take over the running of the surgeries. This came as a result of the previous provider at the four practices, Universal Health, asking NHS commissioners to terminate its contract on August 1 because of financial difficulties.

Applications were received and have subsequently been evaluated by an independent evaluation panel. But the bids did not meet the minimum criteria for a contract to be awarded for the provision of services says the CCG.

Sarah-Jane Mills, director for service development and delivery at Lincolnshire West CCG, said: “In these regrettable circumstances, we have no alternative but to close the practices.

“But patients must absolutely be assured they have the full support of the CCG to help them choose an alternative practice to register with. Ultimately, it is the patients’ choice.

“There is at least one alternative option at each of the closing practices that is within 0.2 miles of where patients currently are. At Arboretum, Burton Road and Pottergate there is one option for each that is within a matter of yards.

“We completely understand this is regrettable and that some patients will feel concerned about change but we are committed to ensuring patients continue to access good quality, local, GP-led health services.”

Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) will continue in its caretaker management role at the four practices until January.

Letters have been sent to patients to offer them reassurances and invite them to a number of drop-in events close to their respective practice. Here they will be able to ask any questions and seek help in choosing their new surgery.

Patients have until January 7 to register with a different GP practice. If they can’t do this by that date, the CCG will automatically allocate those patients a surgery on their behalf. If they are not happy with the surgery they have been allocated they will still be able to choose an alternative at any time – based on where they live and the practice boundaries within which they are residents.

Sarah Newton, chief operating officer at Lincolnshire West CCG, said: “Unfortunately, we were not in a position to offer a contract to any of the bidders. Patients are the key priority and we could not risk a repeat of the uncertainty they were in, back in August. And we simply could not be in a position where practices were not financially viable again. It is not fair on patients and it is not fair on staff.

“Across the four practices, there will overall be 13 other practices for patients to choose an alternative service from. So long as they live within the practice boundary, the patients have complete choice as to where they go.”

For patients at Metheringham Surgery, the following practices are currently accepting new patients: Church Walk Surgery in Metheringham and Tasburgh Lodge, Woodhall Spa.

There will be drop-in sessions for Metheringham Surgery patients on Friday, December 2, between 10am and 12 noon at St Wilfrid’s Church Hall in the village and at the same venue on Tuesday, December 6 between 4pm and 6pm.

Patients can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0845 602 4384 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. PALS provides confidential advice and support to patients, carers and relatives and can help with providing information about other surgeries people can register with.

They can also call the CCG helpline on 01522 515380, between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.