Wiltshire Publications

Pressure mounts on Westbury GPs as Warminster surgery closes

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 at 9:36 am.

WESTBURY GPs are facing a growing workload as patients from Warminster are being asked to register with the White Horse Health Centre following the announcement that Smallbrook Medical Practice is to close inSeptember.

The Westbury Group Practice, which manages both surgeries, has made the decision to close Smallbrook Medical Practice in Warminster after an unsuccessful recruitment drive to increase the number of GPs.

The White Horse Health Centre has already been treating many of the 4,000 Smallbrook patients since March, when the practice reduced its service.

Practice manager Mark Dickson said, “The Westbury Group Practice has made every effort to recruit new GPs so that Smallbrook can continue to provide a facility for local people as a separate, or as a branch surgery.

“However despite these efforts, the recruitment of the required number of GPs has not been successful and therefore reluctantly, with regret and after much consideration, the Westbury Group Practice has made the decision to request the closure of Smallbrook Medical Practice.

“Due to the circumstances and the ongoing discussions with the Patient Participation Group (and patient groups from The Avenue  and Westbury), NHS England and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group as commissioners of this service, have agreed to support this decision.”

Patients from Smallbrook are being asked to register with other practices in the area, including the White Horse Health Centre, before the closure in September.

The health centre has put measures in place to accommodate the extra number of patients as well as the 20,000 patients already registered with them. “We have recruited some additional clinical staff in the form of a practice paramedic and a practice pharmacist to add support to our GPs,” said Mark

“We have also recently been successful in our recruitment of GPs to replace retirements and vacancies at Westbury.

“We will continue to monitor capacity and demand, to ensure all patients receive the care they require. We are very lucky to have a team of clinicians consisting of healthcare assistants, practice nurses, specialist nurses, nurse practitioners, GPs, a practice pharmacist and a practice paramedic to attend to our patients’ needs.

“We will adjust to any fluctuations in patient numbers to ensure continuity of care and that we maintain the high level of care we provide.”

Despite the reassurance from practice manager Mark Dickson, there is still concern about what the impact will be on Westbury patients following the closure of Smallbrook Medical Practice.

Chair of the Sensible Thinking on Patients (STOP) and the Westbury League of Friends, Erica Watson said, “I know that the practice has tried very hard to recruit GPs and other staff without success and we fully appreciate that the need for patient safety must take priority.

“The decision to close Smallbrook will not have been taken lightly and the  practice has announced that they are aware of the disappointment of patients from both towns.

“Westbury patients may have to wait longer both for appointments to see a doctor or health professional and for a receptionist to answer telephone calls.

“There has been feedback that there is already long waits for telephone calls to be answered and that patients often drive to the surgery to make appointments as they are unable to get through on the phone; this could also compromise those without transport.

“There may also be more pressure on the voluntary LINK transport services for both Westbury and Warminster. Accessing treatment from a doctor or other health professional may take longer and cause inevitable stress both to patients and staff.

“There could be an impact on the Accident and Emergency departments locally (Bath and Salisbury) with patients unable to get an appointment visiting them instead.”

About the closure, Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group chair, Dr Peter Jenkins said, “We recognise the national challenges currently felt within primary care and fully support Smallbrook Medical Practice with their request to close.

“We are confident that with both the White Horse Health Centre and The Avenue being able to take on new registrations, local patients will continue to receive a full service.”

Smallbrook Medical Practice will continue to operate a reduced hours service until it closes on Friday 15th September.