Portsmouth councillors united in fight to keep GP surgeries in city
A FIGHT to keep as many GP surgeries as possible open in Portsmouth will ensue after councillors described the threat of practices closing was 'a race to the bottom'.
City politicians were united in their resolve to protect 'vital' health services during a full council meeting this week, which included looking at ways the council could invest in new health centres to attract self-employed GPs.
It comes as fears were raised over a potential merger of the Hanway Medical Centre - which has surgeries in Hanway Road, Buckland, and Stubbington Avenue, North End – with the Portsdown Medical Group, which could see both the Hanway sites closed due to staffing issues.
If the change goes ahead 14,000 patients would have to travel to other Portsdown group surgeries.
Speaking at full council councillor and Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said: 'I am not prepared to see a city where vulnerable people are forced to embark on long journeys, miles from home, to receive vital medical care.'
Cllr Steve Pitt agreed. He said: 'At the end of the day this is not about providing a better health service in bigger hubs, this is about moving thousands of patients and moving them somewhere else. Often they are not better than where they came from.
'It is a race to the bottom. It matters to all of us and if we work together we might be able to do something.'
Tory group leader Cllr Donna Jones added: 'We have all been contacted by residents about this issue. For some people just getting out the door and getting a bus to the surgery is a struggle.'
Councillors agreed to work with the Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance to encourage more GPs to work in the city and with NHS community providers for ideas on how to run practices.
A motion on surgeries was raised by council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson. 'We have got used to changes with GPs in the city,' he said.
'I think closures in the city are very worrying.
'What we could do is go into the business of providing GP surgeries and paying the back room staff and nursing staff so we can facilitate getting GPs in the city.'
Cllr Vernon-Jackson was also worried the same could happen to the Devonshire Avenue Practice in Southsea, which recently merged with the Southsea Medical Centre to become the Lighthouse Group Practice.
There are currently 27 surgery sites in the city. In 2015 there were 31.