Influx of patients looking for new GP

Thousands of patients have had to find a new GP – following the closure of a Knowle surgery.

The 5,000 patients at St Martin’s practice in Wells Road were sent a letter from NHS England last November informing them owner Crest Family Practice was ending its NHS contract on 4 January.

Crest has other practices at William Budd Health Centre and St John’s Lane where patients could register – but there are fears local practices may not cope wit the influx.

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth urged constituents to get in touch and let her know their concerns.

She said: “…I know that many patients, those with long term conditions, for example, were very worried about the situation and of course, there remain concerns about capacity as patients registering elsewhere simply heaps more pressure on other local surgeries – themselves under pressure.

“I have been pressing NHS England to make the transfer as straightforward as possible but I know there are still a large number of people unregistered.

“Primary Care in south Bristol is at a critical point and I want constituents to keep letting me know their experiences and concerns. I do expect health managers and government ministers to sort out GP services for the long term.  That is the challenge I will keep putting to them on behalf of people in south Bristol…”

A spokesperson from NHS England said they had received  an application from Crest in the summer asking to close St Martins.

“As part of the process to consider the application we wanted to explore options for the future of the surgery and made comprehensive enquiries across other practices about possibly taking over the contract as well as taking some patients on if it were to close. It was during these discussions that we were made aware that five neighbouring practices could take on patients.

“The patient drop in sessions were held to inform patients of Crest’s application to close as well as helping patients register elsewhere. We had 15 patients attend and the majority of feedback was uncertainty of which surgery to register with.

“Along with this event, we also have the patient survey available as well as an email, phone number and address to contact where patients could get in touch with any views/comments. We wrote to patients direct with these options.

“The difficulty with smaller practices is that they tend to be unattractive for GPs to recruit to and therefore there are issues around sustainability and long term commitment. To keep general practice sustainable we will see shifts towards mergers and federations where premises and staff are shared across practices.”

NHS England said at the beginning of February over half of the 5,000 patients had registered elsewhere – with around 1,000 registering at William Budd because they wanted “continuity of care.” Vulnerable patients and people with long term health conditions had been given priority and ‘were looked after.”

Any patients with any concerns can also contactKarin Smyth MP  by email: karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or write to her at House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA.