LETTER: Stewart Medical Centre - Response to unfair article

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Iam contacting you from the Stewart Medical Centre in Buxton regarding the article that was published last week with the headline ‘Shock as only one GP surgery spoke out to save Cavendish Hospital.’

It is with surprise and disappointment that we have read the content and tone of the Buxton Advertiser’s report into a perceived lack of GP practice input into the public consultation on local NHS services.

We wish to take this opportunity to respond to this report, which we feel contains inaccurate information and incorrect conclusions.

We have not been approached by the local press to ask us why we have not submitted a practice response.

We feel the headline carries a sensationalist tone that is inappropriate and unhelpful.

We also have concerns that the comments from a local politician imply that the proposals are not being taken seriously by local practices.

We hope our comments allay any concerns in our community that this is the case.

Why we have not responded directly to the consultation:

We feel our voice has already been heard. We have contributed a great deal of our own time and energy to ensure that services are not lost from our area.

Our commitment to limiting proposed cuts and ensuring quality of care is maintained has meant many a lost day off and involvement in evening meetings to be involved in discussions and ensure a strong clinical voice is heard. Our opinions have been listened to on many occasions and have had an influence already.

Prior to our involvement, retaining any beds in Buxton was not even an option under consideration. It was directly as a result of our input that the case for keeping beds in Buxton was recognised and included in the option list.

We feel that no other practice in the area has put in as much time and effort into this as we have.

We hold a contract to provide medical care to the patients receiving care on Fenton Ward and receive a payment for this work. We therefore considered it to be a conflict of interest and inappropriate to respond directly to the consultation.

We considered this an opportunity for the public and our patients to state their views and did not wish to overshadow this.

What we have done to support the process:

We have supported our Patient Participation Group in developing a response to the proposals on behalf of all our patients.

We regularly meet with this group and membership is open to all our registered patients.

We have hosted drop-in sessions during the consultation period to provide a focal point for people to attend and raise their concerns.

We attended public events to be on hand to answer questions and hear concerns.

We have recognised that it is a distinct possibility that despite public and professional opinion voicing opposition, closures may be enforced due to lack of funding from Government, and the availability of skilled staff to provide care.

We have sought to limit this damage and we have fought hard for services.

Since the start of this entire process, we have endeavoured to engage with our local workforce, our patients and our healthcare partner organisations to improve and sustain care quality.

We have encouraged an agreement that no changes will be made until an appropriate equivalent service exists and is up and running.

We have fought hard to rekindle the Healthy Buxton Project, which is currently developing a new lease of life. The healthcare premises in Buxton are tired and old and a new development is well overdue, to enable our healthcare community to be futureproof for the next generation.

We wish for specialist services to be retained but would prefer for these to be sited in a central town location, in a new facility.

We see retention of bedded care as an important part of such a project and feel that Buxton is ideally placed to be a centre of excellence for integrated care.

Many improvements behind the scenes have already been made and we are optimistic that this time we will succeed.

We spend our lives in support of our patients and for this to be called into question is unfair and ill informed.

It is of course notable that the current funding crisis in the NHS is largely as a result of political mismanagement and poor forward planning, taken to new heights by the current Government. And yet we have our local politicians speaking out in opposition of proposed service changes and cuts that are a direct effect of the actions of their own party. This is a matter that you may wish to discuss with your local councillor or MP.

We also have concerns that the article suggests GPs are intimately involved in the decision making process about what can and can’t be afforded with public money. This is incorrect.

We can aim to influence, and ensure decisions taken are in the best medical interest of our community, but ultimately the decision is taken by North Derbyshire CCG and NHS England, under the Department of Health.

Drs Walker and Harvey

On behalf of Stewart Medical Centre