Squeeze fears for oversubscribed GP surgery

GP patients in Tring could feel the squeeze when they go to see their local doctor, The Gazette can exclusively reveal.

Friday, 3rd June 2016, 11:58 am
Updated Friday, 3rd June 2016, 2:02 pm
The New Surgery, Tring

The New Surgery in Tring could close later this year following the recent retirement of GP Dr Tony Hall-Jones.

The majority of his former patients are expected to end up at the town’s other surgery, Rothschild House, with others going to surgeries in Berkhamsted, Aston Clinton and Pitstone.

But Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group, which oversees health across the area, privately admit that this would mean patients would be considered ‘constrained’ by the lack of space per person at Rothschild House.

Speaking at a meeting between the CCG and NHS England, the CCG’s accountable officer Nicola Bell said: “We must consider dispersal now as a realistic option as most 
patients would ultimately end up at Rothschild House anyway, though they would be given the option of going to other practices.”

Dominic Cox, NHS England’s director of commissioning, said: “Strategically, the right thing to do might be close and disperse, though there is a risk around patient engagement.”

Before leaving, Dr Hall-Jones – who had run the surgery in Church Yard for nearly 30 years – had tried to negotiate a merger between his surgery and Rothschild House but these negotiations had ‘broken down’.

In a series of documents seen by this newspaper it was revealed that there are currently 17.94 patients per square metre at the Rothschild House Surgery, which has 18,500 
registered patients.

But with the extra 2,500 New Surgery patients on top, this would rise to 22.95 
patients per square metre – exceeding the maximum figure of 22, which is considered ‘constrained’.

Closing the surgery all together is one of two options being considered, with the 
other being a new GP or company taking it over.

Speaking this week, a CCG spokesman said: “This is a comparator used by NHS England’s primary care team to help identify practices which may require additional premises capacity.

“It should be noted that many practices operate at over this level. As the notes suggest, this is ‘not too much’ over the average level.”

Following a public consultation (which closed earlier this month), the CCG says it is evaluating feedback and ‘exploring all possible options’ in collaboration with NHS England.

A decision on the future of The New Surgery is expected by the end of July.