Increased demands on healthcare services and the national shortage of GPs are having an impact on primary care across the UK and in Wiltshire. The Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership (BoAMHP) have been unable to recruit enough clinicians following the retirement of three full-time GP partners and have sought approval to close St Damian's Surgery in Melksham.
Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group Chair said: “We understand the challenges facing primary care, particularly around recruitment of clinical staff. BoAMHP has sought approval to close its branch surgery in Melksham because, despite their best efforts, the partners feel unable to maintain a full range of patient services at all of their sites.”
Dr Janice Patrick, Senior Partner at Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership said: “This has been a very difficult decision for us to take. Over the past year we have put a lot of measures in place to try and maintain the surgery at St Damian's, but we find ourselves in a position where we cannot continue to provide a service in Melksham with the resources we have available to us.
“BoAMHP is keen to continue to provide services to as many of the St Damian‟s registered patients as wish to stay with their current GP, should our proposal to close the surgery at St Damian‟s be approved. We are writing to all St Damian‟s patients to explain to them what the proposed closure would mean for them.”
As part of the closure, BoAMHP are seeking approval to change the practice boundary and St Damian's patients living outside of the new practice boundary could choose to be registered as an 'out of area' patient, which means they could continue to use the full range of services at Bradford on Avon Health Centre from one of the three remaining sites.
St Damian's patients who want to continue to see a GP in Melksham would need to register with Giffords Surgery or Spa Medical Practice. BoAMHP are committed to supporting patients who choose to register with an alternative GP practice.
As part of the proposal to close, surgery hours at St Damian's would reduce on 7 January 2019 to 8am–1pm Monday to Friday until 31 March 2019 when the surgery would close its doors.
Patients who have questions or would like further information about the proposed closure can attend drop-in clinics from 9am-12noon and from 2pm-4pm on Monday 19 November and Wednesday 21 November.
Public consultations are also being held at 2pm on Wednesday 5 December in the Assembly Hall, Melksham and at 7pm on Monday 12 December at the Town Hall, Melksham.
Stacey Plumb, Healthwatch Wiltshire Manager, said: "If you're not able to get to a drop-in clinic or attend a public consultation and would like to share your experiences, please contact us."
A public consultation on proposals to transform maternity services across Bath and North East Somerset (BANES), Swindon and Wiltshire has been opened by Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group this week.
The proposal has been developed after listening to the views of women, families and staff over the last two years by all the NHS organisations that plan and buy health services as well as those that provide or manage maternity services across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. Together these organisations make up the Local Maternity System.
Lucy Baker, Acting Director for Maternity Services at Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Lead Director for the project, said: “Our proposal is the result of feedback gained from listening to over 2,000 women and families, staff, midwives, obstetricians and others with an interest in maternity services to look at ways we can improve the services we provide to mothers and families across the region. To do that, we need to make some changes to how we currently do things."
She added: “Our proposal would allow us to provide more choice for more women across our area about where and how they are supported before, during and after the birth of their baby, and allows us to make more efficient use of our resources and workforce so we can further improve our antenatal and post-natal and birthing services. We also want to ensure we are delivering the services that can meet the changing needs of our local women and families both now and in the future.
“Despite the financial pressures facing the NHS locally and nationally, we are not planning to reduce how much we spend on maternity services, nor are we proposing to reduce the amount of staff we have or to close any buildings.”
The proposal addresses the issues posed by changes to the population. The average age of a woman giving birth in the UK is now 35. More and more women are experiencing high risk pregnancies (for example, because of high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes) which means they need to be supported in a hospital setting with an expert medical team available. The combination of these factors means there is vastly increased pressure on services at the Obstetric Units at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Great Western Hospital in Swindon and Salisbury District Hospital.
In addition, many women with a low risk pregnancy are choosing to have their babies in an Obstetric Unit because they are worried about having to move by ambulance to another site during or after their labour if they need the help of a doctor. Women need a safe, convenient alternative so staff at the three obstetric units at Bath, Salisbury and Swindon hospitals can focus on mothers who really need their care.
Sarah Merritt, Head of Nursing and Midwifery at Royal United Hospital, Bath, said:
“Some of the changes we are proposing are because, particularly at the RUH, certain services are underused and we are often staffing empty buildings and beds. 85% of women give birth in one of the three Obstetric Units with fewer than 6% giving birth across our four Freestanding Midwifery Units in Chippenham, Trowbridge, Paulton and Frome.
“We believe we have the right number and mix of staff but they’re not based in the right locations to ensure efficient use of our resources and provide women with the services they need.
“In our Freestanding Midwifery Units - particularly at night - staff are covering areas even when there are no or very few births. On average only one baby is delivered every two or three days in each of these units but they need to be staffed to support births 24 hours a day seven days a week.”
The plans have been developed to ensure services are efficient and sustainable to support future population growth, changes in housing policy, and the repatriation of military personnel to South Wiltshire from April 2019.
To find out more, and to have your say on the plans, visit: www.wiltshireccg.nhs.uk/have-you-say/consultations-2/transforming-maternity-services-together
It's Self Care Week and Wiltshire Council and NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group are encouraging people to be well-prepared ahead of winter by taking simple steps to look after themselves and helping their families, friends and neighbours to do the same.
This year, the theme for Self Care Week is ‘Choose Self Care for Life’ and preparing now for the winter ahead will help people, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable, to stay as well as possible.
This means trying to stay active even when the weather is colder, and eating a balanced diet. Wiltshire Council’s health trainers can help people every step of the way – the service is for people aged 18 + and is free. They can also help you find other services and activities to keep you healthy and well over winter.
For more information visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-trainers or call 0300 003 4566.
There are also benefits and grants available to help with energy efficiency, such as cavity wall insulation to help keep homes warm. Call Warm & Safe Wiltshire on 0800 038 5722 or visit www.warmandsafewiltshire.org.uk for more information.
Jerry Wickham, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public health, said: “It’s also sensible to check on vulnerable neighbours and relatives and ensure they have everything they need to stay safe and warm. Sometimes, simply offering to do the shopping for someone can make a big difference.
“There is a lot of support available to help people to stay safe, healthy, warm and out of hospital this winter and beyond.”
NHS Wiltshire CCG has created an easy-to-use eight-step guide, to help people know what simple steps they can take to help keep themselves well over the winter months.
S – see your pharmacist at first sign of illness
E – eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
L – learn more about around the clock healthcare services in Wiltshire
F – find out if you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine
C – check in on your neighbours
A – arrange to pick up your prescription
R – restock your medicine cabinet
E – ensure you stay warm
Dr Andrew Girdher, GP at Box Surgery, explains: “We’re encouraging people to be proactive with their own self-care, to help them stay as healthy as possible and to know where to go if they do need health care advice.
“Healthcare services are put under enormous pressure over the winter months and by doing what you can to look after yourself where you can, helps to free up valuable practitioner time to see those people who really need to be seen.”
Healthwatch Wiltshire is looking for your ideas on how it can improve its work in 2019.
The county's independent consumer champion for health and care services has launched a short survey for local residents which will help focus its work in the new year.
Healthwatch Manager, Stacey Plumb said: "This survey will help give us a flavour of what we do well and what we can improve on, as well as giving us ideas of where we can go to listen to more people about their experiences.
"As always, we would love to hear your views of health and care services in Wiltshire, what's good and what could be better."
The survey, which takes just a few minutes to complete, is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/wiltsresidentssurvey