BY CALUM FRASER
A surgery in Bexley that caters for about 9,000 residents is set to close. The Cairngall Medical Practice in Erith Road is set to close in March 2019 after the Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the primary care commissioners, could not reach a deal with landlords.
The residents who use the services will now be moved to surrounding practices. Belvedere ward Councillor Dave Putson has raised concerns about the decision.
He said: “I believe that the CCG should be attempting to keep the Cairngall medical practice open and be continuing negotiations until the very last opportunity.
“The CCG should work on a detailed plan of action to secure the future medical needs of the remaining 7,000 patients, and this practice, rather than the perceived abrogation of their responsibility at the very first problem, as part of ongoing negotiations.”
Negotiations with the landlords, who could not be contacted for comment, started in December 2017. The decision to close the practice came in June this year.
Cllr Putson said: “[This is] an exceedingly brief negotiating window when considering they would impact more than 9,000 patients.
“Some GP surgeries in this area have already closed and the remaining practices have been prepared to absorb the patients from these closing practices.
“Most major concerns impacting residents would, ordinarily, come under the purview of the council and its scrutiny committee.
However, it appears that even this process was not actioned as in this instance ‘there wasn’t sufficient time.’”
He said that this action was part of a Tory agenda to close public practices and facilitate the privatisation of the NHS. A spokeswoman from Bexley CCG said the surrounding practices have capacity to take 14,000 more patients.
She said: “A decision to close a practice is only taken when no other viable option is available, and NHS Bexley CCG’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee – which includes GPs, patient representatives, the local authority and Healthwatch Bexley – was left with no choice when the landlord could not guarantee the premises would be available for the required length of time to issue a contract to a new provider.
“This was after many months of negotiations with the landlords. “A GP service will continue to be provided to patients at Cairngall Medical Practice as usual until March 31, 2019, and the CCG shall write to patients in December regarding arrangements for GP services after March 31, 2019.”
A spokeswoman for the council said: “It would be incorrect to say that the Cairngall Medical Practice issue was not brought before the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee because ‘there wasn’t sufficient time’.
“The chairman and vice chairman of the committee together with the opposition spokesman agreed that the issue would be directed to ward councillors to look into rather than wait until the next formal committee meeting date.”
A spokesperson for Bexley CCG said: “NHS Bexley CCG has kept the London Borough of Bexley, the Chair of the relevant scrutiny committee, and local councillors informed throughout, and our primary care team will continue to keep an open dialogue with patients registered with Cairngall, in order to offer support where necessary. The team will also hold patient engagement events for registered patients.”