Anger over blocking of surgery

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Good enough for an award and local GPs. So why not good enough for NHS England?

Plans for a weekly satellite surgery to be run by the Rye Medical Centre in the newly refurbished Peasmarsh Memorial Hall have been thrown into disarray by NHS England’s refusal to grant its permission. Having wasted months raising one obstacle after another, permission was refused in June on the basis that “conditions are not satisfactory” – despite the hall having recently been restored to such a high standard that it won a Sussex Heritage Trust award (see story).

NHS England was originally approached in August 2013, the formal application being submitted in early October. The following month further forms had to be completed – even though they covered the same questions. Another barrier was raised when NHS England stated that Care Quality Commission approval had to be sought. The commission confirmed in mid-December that its approval was not required.

The authority took a further two months to consider the application before asking the practice to confirm the services that would be delivered, how clinical waste would be disposed of, whether the hall would be used for other purposes and asking for evidence of the need for the service. The practice responded within three days addressing all these questions and supplying letters from five patients, the parish councillors and the patient participation group.

NHS England said it would consider the matter on April 14; on June 27 it informed the practice that approval for a branch surgery at Peasmarsh was declined on the grounds that “there were a number of concerns relating to the number of appointments that would be available, the services to be delivered and the transfer of clinical waste from the village hall. Additional concerns were raised in relation to the site being used by other organisations and the governance issues that could be brought to bear by this.”

The Peasmarsh Memorial Hall committee and Rye Medical Centre are both angered and puzzled by this decision. Neither has been offered an explanation, nor has anyone from NHS England asked to inspect the facilities. How can such a decision be made without a site visit?

The medical centre, which already successfully runs satellite surgeries at Brede, Camber and Icklesham, is appealing but has been given only until August 10 to do so – even though its original proposal was submitted back in October and it received a response only at the end of June.

With big cuts to local bus services on the cards – which could affect the ability of patients to access medical services – it is difficult to see the justification for this decision which flies in the face of Government promises to “lift the burden of bureaucracy – by removing the cost and control of unnecessary red tape and regulation” and encourage “democratic engagement, choice, transparency and diversity”.

Anyone wishing to support the appeal will find an online e-petition via this link. The medical centre is also encouraging patient participation group members and all concerned patients to write individual letters of support. Practice manager Jackie Kempton can supply more details and the name of the person to whom letters should be addressed. Contact her in the medical centre or via email.

Gill Clamp is on the committee of the Rye Medical Centre PPG