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Five GP practices set to combine in new Preston ‘super surgery’

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Thousands of NHS patients will be on the move as five GP practices combine into a new ‘super surgery’.

Land at the former Little Sisters of the Poor care home, in Garstang Road, Preston, will soon be home to the Lytham Road Surgery, Medicom Surgery, and ‘The Surgery’ – compromising of Beach Drive Surgery, Moor Park and Drs Robb and Robb, with the latter two already merging services.

Care home owner, HBS Healthcare, has assigned land for a single, purpose built, building on the rear of the site for the surgeries to operate in from 2020.

Health watchdogs have urged that the 25,000 patients affected are fully consulted on the move. The furthest practice to re-locate will be Medicom Surgery, which is 1.7 miles from the proposed new surgery.

The NHS Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is behind the move, deeming it necessary with the surgeries “mostly operating from premises that are undersized and no longer fit for purpose”.

Many of the premises are also said to not be compliant with the law regarding disabled access.

Sheralee Turner-Birchall, chief executive of Healthwatch Lancashire

Sheralee Turner-Birchall, chief executive of Healthwatch Lancashire

A spokesman from Greater Preston CCG said: “The development will enable practices to deliver extended access to GP appointments, and eventually will deliver additional health services, which will ultimately help to reduce pressure on hospital services.

“It will also bring the potential to train more doctors and healthcare staff, as well as providing increased capacity to accommodate more residents in our area as a result of the City Deal.”

The move will see annual rental reimbursements from the Greater Preston CCG to the GP surgeries more than double, increasing from £144,930 to £301,379, plus undisclosed parking related costs.

One of the project’s chief supporters, Dr Zak Patel of Issa Medical Centre – the overarching Preston surgery behind the plans – said: “There is going to be much more investment and that means that costs will increase.”

With all these new housing developments in north Preston, I know that demand on surgeries will grow. The people in these new homes will need improved vital health services.

Chief executive of Healthwatch Lancashire, Sheralee Turner-Birchall, said: “It’s paramount that the patients affected are involved in the redesign of the new facility for the future and therefore, we will be asking for clarification of the decision makers that this is the case.”

Greater Preston CCG state that “patient choice still applies” with any patient wanting to register with a practice that is more convenient being open to do so.

The CCG added: “The new purpose-built site will be a modern facility that will make access easier for patients with disabilities.”

Practice manager at Issa Medical Centre, Sharon Riley, said: “We want to keep patients involved in every stage of the development and will be holding a dedicated Patient Participation Group meeting in the near future for patients to join in and get in touch with us over the plans.”

Ms Riley added: “The site is superb. It’s not too far away from the current surgeries and will have greater parking facilities.

“With all these new housing developments in north Preston, I know that demand on surgeries will grow. The people in these new homes will need improved vital health services.”

The Little Sisters care home – rebranded as Springfield Manor Gardens – had been running in a reduced capacity since 2016 until being purchases by HBS Healthcare in late 2017, with Spiral Health CIC signing a 15 year lease with HBS in December 2017.

A spokesman from Spiral Health CIC said: “HBS Healthcare is currently in the preliminary planning stages for a purpose built facility at the rear of the main building in an unused part of the grounds, to house a GP surgery.

“This will provide easier access to doctors for residents of both Springfield Manor Gardens and the surrounding area, without compromising the provision of care, facilities of the building, or the aesthetics of the property and gardens.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor care home was bought by HBS Healthcare in late 2017 and has been under the operational responsibility of Spiral Health CIC since December 15, 2017. They intend to keep it as a care home.

A spokesman from Spiral Health said: “Having signed a 15-year lease with the new owners of the building, HBS Healthcare, Spiral Health is excited to continue the excellent care that the Little Sisters have provided Preston with for over 120 years.”

Prior to HBS control, the care home had been operating in a reduced capacity since 2016, with fewer residents and staff.

A spokesman from HBS Healthcare confirmed to the Post that a planning application for the project is set to be submitted to Preston Council in the spring or summer of 2018. If successful, the build will commence in the following year in line with a finishing date of March 2020.

Response to patient travel distance change

The new super surgery on land at the Little Sisters nursing home will see more than 25,000 patients travel up to 1.7 miles extra to receive their local primary healthcare.

Chief executive of Healthwatch Lancashire, Sheralee Turner-Birchall said: “The relocation of five GP surgeries to a new central health centre on the Little Sisters Care Home site in Preston will see a significant number of patients affected.

“For some, the change may have a positive impact, and for others, this may have a negative one. It’s paramount that the patients affected are involved in the redesign of the new facility for the future and therefore, we will be asking for clarification of the decision makers that this is the case. We urge those who are affected to leave their feedback with Healthwatch Lancashire, as the public’s voice on health and social care. All of the information we receive will be fed back to the health and social care decision makers to enable them to shape the right care for the future.”

Regarding the change in circumstances and, potential transport issues that may arise for those with a physical disability, a spokesman from Greater Preston CCG said: “The current buildings that these GP practices are operating from are undersized and at capacity, and we believe that our patients should be able to access primary care in buildings that are fit for purpose, which is what this project will deliver.

“The CCGs are committed to investing in primary care premises that can deliver even more services, closer to patients’ homes and that are fit for the future.

“All the practices that are due to relocate are within 1.7 miles of the new site, but the practices will be consulting with their registered patients to fully understand any concerns or issues regarding the relocation.

“The new purpose-built site will be a modern facility that will make access easier for patients with disabilities. However, patient choice still applies, and any patient wanting to register with a practice that is more convenient for them is able to do so.”