GPs' fury at St Neots surgery plan
ANGRY doctors in St Neots have complained to the NHS about plans to use doctors from Kent instead of St Neots to run the town s new super-surgery. They say the new, open-all-hours, centre will take patients from existing practices causing them to close– b
ANGRY doctors in St Neots have complained to the NHS about plans to use doctors from Kent instead of St Neots to run the town's new super-surgery.
They say the new, open-all-hours, centre will take patients from existing practices causing them to close- because the town's expansion has come to a virtual standstill in the recession.
The St Neots "locality group", a consultative body for NHS Cambridgeshire, (as the primary care trust now calls itself) has complained that it was not adequately consulted about who is to manage the new "Darzi centre".
The new clinics are named after Health Minister, Lord Ara Darzi, who proposed them.
Locality group chairman and PCT medical adviser Dr Niall Bacon, from the town's Almond Road Surgery, has demanded that the plans be put on hold.
In a letter to Chris Banks, NHS Cambridgeshire chief executive, Dr Bacon said: "There is a great deal of anger and resentment in the practices at the way the procurement process has been handled.
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"At no stage were the practices, or the locality group, properly consulted. The PCT based its decision on an assumption of new housing and population growth.
"It is now clear that this will not happen for many years. The PCT should reconsider."
He added: "The awarding of the contract to an outside organisation with no knowledge of the locality gives us cause for concern. Patients said they a local provider."
He added; "Without population growth, the new service can only grow a patient list at the expense of other practices, leading inevitably to redundancies and service cuts.
"Much has been said about the PCT having its hands tied by the strategic health authority and Department of Health, but the reality is that only the PCT has the local knowledge to make the change without destabilising existing practices."
Dr Bacon told The Hunts Post he expected people moving into the town to register with the super-surgery.
"People moving into the area often register with the practice closest to where they live. They may also look at the issue of extended hours. So we expect a gradual reduction and a gradual rise in use of the new service.
"From a patient's perspective that might seem a good thing, but for a practice, reduction in income means reduction in service."
He said most local practitioners favoured a rival bid from the Cedar House surgery, in St Neots.
"It was perverse to award it to an outside body. We have all extended our hours. . Practices could merge. If you have 15 or 20 doctors in a practice, you can quite easily run a 12-hour seven-day surgery safely. You can also close premises and achieve efficiency through economies of scale."
Neither NHS Cambridgeshire nor Malling Health was available for comment as The Hunts Post went to press.