Hundreds of patients were today facing the prospect of losing their local GP surgery - because it can’t recruit enough doctors..
Sharoe Green Surgery in Fulwood has faced “great difficulty” in recruiting permanent and full-time doctors.
The surgery is one of three clinics under the Dr C M Wilson and Partners group, which has spent two years trying and failing to recruit a doctor to the team.
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A statement on the surgery website says: “For some time the practice has been experiencing difficulty in managing and sustaining the surgery at Sharoe Green.
“All our patients deserve a high quality healthcare service but for a number of reasons we feel unable to deliver the services we would like to from this surgery.
“Therefore, we have made a request to NHS Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS England to close Sharoe Green Surgery.
“For the partners of the practice the decision to request the closure of Sharoe Green Surgery has not been taken lightly. Over recent years, we have tried various solutions to keep the surgery open.
“However, the national shortage of GPs has led to great difficulty in recruiting permanent and full time doctors.”
The Dr C M Wilson and Partners group has a total of 13,728 patients on its list, all of whom can already access all three of its locations, the Healthcare Centre at Flintoff Way, Longsands Medical Centre and Sharoe Green.
The statement continued: “The provision of modern primary healthcare is becoming increasingly difficult and delivery from three sites is no longer sustainable.
“As GPs we are primarily concerned with the well-being of our patients. We believe that by centralising services, we will be able to offer a more flexible and efficient GP service with better access.
“Due to the national shortage of doctors we have been unable to recruit a doctor to the team.
“We have been advertising for two years so the decision to apply to close the branch has been done with much consideration.
“By centralising services, we will be able to reduce the waiting time as although we will have the same number of staff they will be operating from only two sites. Patients will be given the choice to register at either The Healthcare Centre or Longsands Medical Centre.”
City councillor Daniel Duckworth, who represents Sharoe Green, has met with the CCG to discuss residents’ fears of the possible closure.
He said: “Residents are concerned but they could see it coming. They know it is to do with cost-cutting.
“The CCG has said the reason they are looking at closing the surgery is because it is costly to staff it safely.
“They are having to employ locums to staff it safely. The continuity of care isn’t there for the patients and I can see why there would be great continuity of care at Flintoff Way.
"But no final decision that has been made yet. A decision is expected on February 4 at a CCG meeting in Leyland.”
Coun Duckworth went on to assure Sharoe Green Surgery patients public transport is available.
He said: “The Healthcare Centre is on the same bus route as the Sharoe Green Surgery, the number 19,” he said. Anybody who could get to Sharoe Green Surgery can get to The Healthcare Centre because it’s on the same route.”
According to the surgery, for people who are reliant on public transport, the number 19 bus stops outside Sharoe Green Surgery and drops off outside Finney House Nursing Home, next door to The Healthcare Centre, about 1.5 miles away. every 10-15 minutes.
The struggle to recruit GPs at Sharoe Green is reflective of a national shortage. GP numbers have fallen by more than 1,000 since 2015 and The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation has warned that the shortfall is so serious that it cannot be filled at all, adding: “The only way forward is to use the skills of other staff, including pharmacists and physiotherapists, much more widely and routinely in and alongside general practice.”