Doctors and staff at a caretaker practice who took on thousands of patients after two surgeries closed have said they want to ‘set the record straight’.
In April 2015, Albert Street Medical Centre and its branch surgery in Bow Fell, Brownsover, lost its contract due to a dispute between partners. As a result, 6,500 patients, of which 1,200 had a Brownsover postcode, were told they would be looked after at the new, temporary facility, Rugby Town Medical Practice, on Lower Hillmorton Road.
Patients were told they would be seen there for one year while a new medical centre was being built in Brownsover and it was likely to open at the end of 2016. But last week NHS England confirmed that work on the building wouldn’t even begin until 2017.
Rugby Town Medical Practice is run by Beech Tree and Market Quarter Medical Practices and the team behind it wanted to respond to comments made by the Brownsover Patient Action Group (BPAG) in last week’s Advertiser. BPAG said some patients were unhappy with the temporary surgery’s car park and its use of locum doctors.
Cheryl Herbert, of the management team at Rugby Town Medical Practice, said: “The same doctors that started working here in April 2015 are still here in February 2016. Like all practices, some doctors are part-time and some are full-time, but they are not locums. We have the same nurses and admin staff that we had at Albert Street and the Brownsover branch surgery, and this helps provide continuity for patients.”
She said the car park ‘wasn’t ideal’ but she used the building when Beech Tree Medical Practice was based there and said she didn’t receive complaints.
A free bus service for people who have difficulty accessing public transport runs from Brownsover to the practice and there are specific appointments to match the bus timetable.
Dr J Ahluwalia said the practice currently looks after 5,740 patients and it is accepting 30 new patients a month.
The team said they receive ‘extremely positive’ feedback from their monthly questionnaire which asks patients if they would recommend the practice. They have also received positive letters from patients.
Dr A Pathania said the surgery is ranked 34th out of 75 surgeries in the Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning League Table.
Sue Merrell, of the management team at Rugby Town Medical Practice, said: “We feel like we are being used as a pawn in a game of chess.
“It’s not our fault that the GPs at the other surgeries lost the contract and it’s not our fault that patients couldn’t use their old surgeries.
“We had to pull out all the stops to provide services and the last thing we want is bad publicity when we are working so hard.
“We understand that Brownsover patients are upset about losing their practice and their doctors and we do feel for them - it must be awful.
“But unfortunately that is out of our control and we are trying very hard to provide a good, temporary service until the new building is built.”
Cheryl added: “We want the new medical centre to be a great success but when it is built this situation will be turned on its head. The 1,200 Brownsover patients will be delighted as they can get an appointment on their doorstep, but the thousands of town centre patients will suddenly have to travel to Brownsover for an appointment.”
If you would like to speak to the practice’s management team, call 01788 537531.