MORE THAN 3,000 patients at a troubled Poole surgery have been told they are being transferred to other GP practices after the sudden announcement of the closure of their clinic.

NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group has written to all patients registered with Longfleet House Surgery, advising them they will be transferred to a different local practice in the coming weeks in advance of Longfleet's closure at the end of next month.

In this report:

  • Surgery was graded as 'requires improvement' after CQC inspection
  • Patients have spoken of their shock at closure
  • GPs will be 'in great demand' across Dorset after leaving Longfleet House
  • But staff at the surgery refuse to comment to the Echo

Inspection found surgery was in breach of Act regulation

The CCG said the decision to close the surgery was made "in the face of growing demand and the challenges that are being experienced nationally, including workforce and increasing costs".

However, the surgery was also subject to a critical Care Quality Commission report following an inspection in January, which branded the practice, lead by Dr David Jones, as ‘Requiring Improvement’ and its leadership as ‘Inadequate’.

Rob Payne, head of primary care at NHS Dorset CCG, said: “During March 2019 we received notice from Dr Jones that he wished to close the practice. We have since been working with him and the practice team to ensure the smooth transition of patients to new practices, meaning people can continue to receive primary care services locally.”

The CCG’s statement failed to disclose the CQC’s conclusions which included a finding that the surgery was not meeting certain legal requirements, namely: ‘provision of management hours to enable good governance of the practice’ and ‘reviewing policies and procedures to ensure information was accurate and relevant’. A business continuity plan had not been reviewed since March 2018, despite staff leaving the practice, was in breach of a regulation in the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

In his report published on April 1, inspector Professor Steve Field explained some of the factors behind the surgery’s rating. “The practice had experienced staff leaving and had not been able to recruit into these roles, partly due to national shortages of skilled staff," he said.

“The registered manager was also responsible for other GP practices and therefore had other responsibilities in addition to overseeing Longfleet House Surgery.”

Professor Field said breaches of regulations had been identified at a previous inspection in May 2018.

Statement given via surgery's website

The Daily Echo has asked for a comment from Dr Jones, who, according to the surgery’s website, joined the practice in 2008, having working locally since 2001. He graduated from the University College of London in 2000, following training at Oxford University and his medical interests include minor surgery and children’s health.

A member of staff said they had been asked to make no comment to the media.

The Longfleet House website says that the practice staff are a ‘valuable resource’ who would be an asset to other practices in the area.

“Some staff work across both Longfleet House and Alma Medical Centre, so they will continue to work from Alma," it said.

"The GPs will be in great demand and will make their own choices regarding future employment.

"Reception and administrative staff have a lot to offer and we are working with local practices to identify opportunities for recruitment.”

Patients rate doctors as 'among the best'

Yesterday the Echo spoke to two patients who were visiting the premises, near Poole Hospital.

Tom Joseph, from Poole, said: "I had a blood test and they gave me an appointment today at 10.10am, I even got sent a message on my mobile.

"But when I came here they said it was cancelled and I had to move the appointment to another surgery.

"They gave me an appointment, they didn't give any cancellation or anything. Now I need to find another surgery and get them to take my blood. I have taken the day off to come here."

Mr Joseph said the doctors at the surgery were good and he was sad the surgery was closing

"I think they are among the best," he told the Echo.

Another patient, who asked not to be named, said: "They are very good, the doctors and the staff here. They have always taken good care of us. Personally, I think it is a real shame the surgery is closing.

"I have never had any problems with them, and I understand this closure is more to do with lack of GPs and money."

What happens next for patients?

Longfleet House itself cites the well-reported difficulties of GP recruitment in answer to a question on its website as to why the surgery is closing.

"Nationally, GP practices, particularly smaller practices such as Longfleet, are experiencing difficulties such as recruitment of GP workforce and increasing costs," it said. "So far Dorset has seen the closure of three similar sized practices in the last two years."

It said all patients would be transferred to either The Adam Practice, Poole Town Surgery, Dr Newmans or Evergreen Oak.

News of Longfleet House's closure comes amid a giant shake-up of GP care in Poole, which will see more than 58,000 patients transferred from five separate practices into one 'super practice' called Shore Medical. Longfleet House is not understood to be part of this.