The gloves are off - MP and county councillor fight for a new doctors surgery in Wimblington
- Credit: Archant
A village doctor’s surgery, due to open in the New Year, is hanging in the balance after the Government said it will not fund it – because nobody has complained about needing it.
Wimblington’s GP surgery, which was run inside a house in Governess Close, was closed seven months ago because it was labelled unfit for purpose.
In the meantime patients have been seeing doctors at Doddington Medical Centre, which manages the Wimblington branch, with the promise of a new surgery in the village in the new year.
Planning permission has been granted to create a surgery at North Witchford Lodge and Roddons, which owns the building, is ready to put the work out to tender.
However, this week, a letter was sent from NHS England to Wimblington parish councillors giving them the shock news that the Government refuses to pay the £14,000 a year rent on the building because not enough people had complained about a lack of a GP surgery in Wimblington.
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County councillor Dave Connor said: “Of course nobody complained! Villagers knew we were creating a new facility so we were waiting patiently for that to happen.”
MP Steve Barclay, who is challenging the decision, said: “NHS England doesn’t seem to have followed its own process over the closure of the Wimblington branch. It has not carried out the necessary consultation and has not asked for feedback.
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“It was never intended to be a closure, it was always going to be a relocation.
“This is an essential service for the people of Wimblington and it has implications for Doddington.
“It puts more pressure on the medical centre there.”
Elizabeth Welcher, Doddington Medical Centre’s practice manager, said: “NHS England’s premises group has decided that as there has been no uproar over the surgery’s closure over the past few months and we have been caring for patients at Doddington, there is no need for a surgery at Wimblington.
“But the only reason people haven’t kicked up a fuss is because they always knew it was a temporary measure and the surgery was being relocated to better premises.”
However, a spokesman for NHS England said that Doddington Medical Practice closed the Wimblington branch without receiving prior approval to do so - and without carrying out the public consultation.
The spokesman said: “Whilst NHS England was aware that the practice was starting to think about possible changes to its branch premises, there was no indication that it was looking to take action at that stage.
“NHS England had previously advised the practice that it would need to submit a business case to obtain approval for a branch surgery elsewhere, with no guarantee that approval would be granted.
“As such any action taken prior to such approval (for example closure of a branch surgery) would be entirely at the practice’s own risk and should of course still require appropriate public consultation.
“NHS England received a business case from the practice in September, seeking approval for the establishment of a branch surgery at North Witchford Lodge.
“The business case has been considered, but was not approved. The practice has been advised to liaise further with NHS England regarding this situation.
“It is regrettable that the practice chose not to undertake any public consultation regarding its actions or secure NHS England support prior to its decision to close the branch surgery.
“NHS England will, however, continue to work with the practice and the community to achieve an outcome which supports the delivery of safe and high quality general medical services.”
In response to the spokesman’s comments, Mr Barclay said: “It seems remarkable that NHS England would turn a blind eye if a practice was ‘closing’ a branch without public consultation and it was aware.
“Surely it would have questioned that, or informed the public or notified me as the MP?
“The point is that the practice was not closing, simply relocating, and NHS England was aware of that.”