Concern as merger of Portsmouth GP surgeries Hanway and Portsdown is approved in closed meeting
A DECISION to merge GP practices and close sites made in a closed meeting has been met with concern.
Hanway Medical Practice has been approved to merge with Portsdown Group Practice and its sites, at Hanway Road, Buckland, and Stubbington Avenue, North End, closed, after two Hanway GPs announced retirement.
The decision, which will see Hanway’s 14,000 patients have to go elsewhere in the city to receive primary care, was voted through unanimously at a CCG meeting yesterday, which was closed due to public buildings being closed in Portsmouth to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Baldev Laly from Laly's Pharmacy started a petition to Portsmouth City Council over the closures of the surgeries and was left shocked a decision had been made during the coronavirus outbreak.,
Mr Laly said: ‘It is massively disappointing to receive this news in the current climate. We have had no communication or official notification from Portsmouth CCG, but it would appear that on a day when the public were applauding NHS support, decisions were being made in a closed meeting to put them further out of physical reach for some of the most vulnerable in our city.
‘It seems a very odd time to be putting the closure of surgeries at the top of Portsmouth’s health agenda and making long-term decisions about the city’s primary care provision.’
Roger Batterbury from Healthwatch Portsmouth dialled into the meeting.
He said: ‘I made it my role to speak as much as I could for the public, I reminded the committee of the petition of over 2,000 local people objecting and I also mentioned that not all patients had received correspondence from the surgery about the proposed changes including the merger and closures of sites.’
The merger will take place from May 1 with the surgery at Stubbington Avenue closed from that date and Hanway Road surgery staying open for six months to help patients and staff adjust. The nearest Portsdown Group Practice for Hanway patients is Kingston Crescent in North End.
Dr Ian Morris, partner at Hanway Group Practice, said: ‘With two partners retiring, “no change” simply ceased to be an option. We have weighed up all the alternatives, and thought long and hard about what to do, but we were all clear that the merger was the only real choice we had.
‘The last thing we wanted was for our patients to simply be told that the practice was closing and to find another surgery to go to – this decision avoids that, and hopefully means that our patients will get the best possible primary care.’
Lyn Butt is a Hanway Road patient and is concerned how Kingston Crescent will cope with the influx of thousands of new patients after proposals to add 10 new clinical rooms to the building were scrapped.
The 71-year-old told The News: ‘We are just so sorry Hanway is going and we don't know how the other surgery is going to cope with the new numbers now they are not going to extend their building.
‘We don't want to be going all over the city if they can't fit us in at the Kingston practice.’
Chair of the CCG’s primary care commissioning committee, Margaret Geary added: ‘Our role in this process is clear, and defined – it is not about whether we like the practices’ proposal or not, but whether the correct processes and procedures had been followed, and whether we believe it offers the most viable, sustainable option for the practice and continuity of care and service to patients.
‘We were also mindful of what might happen if the proposal wasn’t approved – the most likely outcome was that Hanway Group Practice would have little choice but to simply end its contract, which would have been much worse for patients and would have offered uncertainty around provision of service for the practice population. I realise that approving the merger is not the outcome some people wanted, but the committee members were clear it was the best option available.’