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."