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05/10/07 – Flaws exposed in Doctors Surgery Closure by PCT

Dale Heenan
  • On October 5, 2007

Flaws in the attempt by the local Primary Care Trust to close Covingham Surgery have been exposed at a meeting of the Health Scrutiny Committee last night.

Cllr Dale Heenan asked a number of questions about the proposed Closure of the Doctor’s Surgery held at St Paul’s Church. While answering the Primary Care Trust acknowledged some defencicies and promised to investigate in the next couple of weeks.

Concerns ranged from the way the consultation process was conducted, to the impact on Patient Care. There are 2000 patients on the Practice’s Register, 700 are registered in Covingham.


Cllr Dale Heenan“There are obvious issues in running a Doctor’s Surgery from St Paul’s Church, but the Trusts’s own evidence says residents support this local service.

Those involved need to be honest about why they are proposing to allow this Surgery to close. If the problems are down to lack of money from the Labour Government and the Practice having only 1 GP when it used to have 2, they should say that and be open with residents.
This is not the case that was been presented to the Health Scrutiny Committee. 

The rooms used for Doctor’s surgeries are far from ideal and have serious problems, but out of a 100 page report just a couple of lines mention that they break current Government Health and Safety and Disability standards.
There is no evidence of any attempt to address these matters or even discuss an alternative to closure.

To backup their case, an Infection Control Assessment was carried out by the PCT and scored the Practice as substandard and not fit for purpose.
If you look at the detail, they were marked down for items such as not having Pedal Waste Bins! That can easily be fixed and raises questions about what has been going on anyway.

Another concern I raised was about the survey of Patients. It was conducted for 2 weeks at both the St Pauls Church Clinic AND at the Marlborough Road Practice. They had just over 250 responses.
It appears that 75% of the comments received were from Marlborough Rd Patients, patients who will not be impacted by this decision. The views of the 68 who objected from Covingham have just been dismissed.

The Council cannot stop the Primary Care Trust from taking this Closure action but we can make sure that they follow the right process and that all alternatives have been investigated.

This is a classic case of using statistics and spin to get the result you want.

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