Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The future of Sidmouth's Blackmore Health Centre >>> doctors urge the public to support their bid to buy the surgery ahead of upcoming talks

There has been a lot of anger generated over the uncertain future of Sidmouth town centre's health centre:
Futures Forum: The future of Sidmouth's Blackmore Health Centre >>> petition supporting campaign to purchase premises

Because a lot needs doing to the place:
Revealed - the best and worst doctors' surgeries in and around Exeter as rated by patients | Exeter Express and Echo

The centre's doctors are urging the public to support them in their fight to keep the surgery open and improve the quality of service:

GPs’ ongoing battle for Sidmouth’s Blackmore Health Centre

14 November 2016 Eleanor Pipe

Sidmouth residents gathered at Blackmore Surgery to protest at the possible closure of the practice. Hugo Swire MP made his way through an angry crowd as he met with surgery staff to discuss the future of the practice.

Appeal for public support ahead of talks

Doctors battling to safeguard Blackmore Health Centre have voiced increasing frustration in negotiations with the landlord - and have expressed fears they could be forced out.

Sid Valley Practice partners urged the public to get behind their bid to buy the town centre surgery this week, ahead of upcoming talks, and warned that ongoing issues and spiralling costs continue to create tension.

The GPs first revealed their concerns in August and claimed plans by owner NHS Property Services (NHSPS) to redevelop the site – adding new flats and a pharmacy, as well as a new health centre – left them fearing for its future.

NHSPS this week told the Herald that an apparent hike in maintenance and rent costs was down to billing errors and stressed that it is committed to providing a purpose-built surgery on the site.

A petition backing the doctors’ bid to buy the premises – a move they say will safeguard healthcare provision in the town – has gained 2,387 signatures to date.

Dr Joe Stych, one of the practice partners, said: “The problems working with NHSPS is pulling GPs away from their clinical contact with patients. Patients are losing out here. I would encourage patients to register with our petition to buy the building. Sidmouth does not need another block of retirement flats - people should make this clear to planners.

“It had been agreed that we could buy Blackmore Health Centre and modernise it. NHSPS has halted the agreed process and seen vital works stall. This concerns us greatly - where will we serve our population in 20 years as the town continues to expand? The practice is committed to providing GP services in the centre of Sidmouth and is looking at alternative accommodations.”

He outlined proposed changes to the lease that would pass all cost of building provision back onto GPs, rather than the NHS, and claimed the practice is facing a £96,000 predicted maintenance bill for 2016-2017 - despite a forecasted total of £8,000 worth of completed work.

A spokesman for NHSPS said: “NHSPS is focussed on delivering improvements and a number of options are being considered. These include redeveloping the site to provide a new, purpose-built surgery with flats above it. This would ensure patients can receive treatment in a modern building and would offset some of the development costs. We recognise that some issues relating to charges and premises improvements have taken longer to resolve than we would have liked, but we are pleased to be working on solutions that will benefit the practice and local patients.”

He explained the invoices sent detailing ‘significantly increased’ maintenance costs were based on incorrect information from a former contractor and said NHSPS intends to revise the practice’s bills accordingly.

On the building costs footed by GPs, he said that the rules are determined by a national NHS document, under which practices are reimbursed for rent, rates, water and clinical waste by NHS England.

A second meeting with East Devon MP Hugo Swire, practice partners, patient representatives, NHSPS and NHS England will take place on Monday when the petition will be handed over.

GPs’ ongoing battle for Sidmouth’s Blackmore Health Centre - News - Sidmouth Herald

County Councillor Claire Wright gives more background:

Sidmouth GPs infuriated at NHS Property Services misrepresentation to health watchdog councillors

Thursday, 10 November 2016 1 Comment by Claire

Sidmouth GPs are angry after an NHS property company gave a misleading update to Devon County Council health scrutiny councillors, on controversial plans to redevelop Blackmore Health Centre.

A written briefing was circulated to councillors from NHS Property Services on Monday 7 November, claiming that agreement with the practice had been reached on rent and service costs.

But Dr Joe Stych said he was infuriated at the claims. He asked that the committee be put straight at its meeting on 8 November.

He said: “I don’t know who they get their information from but it is wrong and should be made clear to the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee - they are trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

“There is no agreement with the practice about rent and service costs. We met with NHPS about 1 month ago - the most senior manager for facilities management came to meet us and was clueless about why the costs we were being charged were so high. They confirmed costs for 2015-2016 to continue on our previous arrangement but since the meeing nothing in writing has come out.  Nothing is agreed for this financial year 2016-2017 or moving forward.

“The only option for a redevelopment that is on the table is one we can not afford to enter a lease into as it sees non re-imbursable costs to the practice rise considerably and we have no control over rising costs.

“Lets be clear their redevelopment of the site is aimed at making as much profit as possible. Car parking is reducing considerably and we have seen no plans in writing which protect future expansion interests to the practice. Their plans are so unfavourable we are having to look at our options to relocate the surgery to a less convenient site.”

I raised the issue at the end of the meeting to put members straight. But it is deeply worrying that NHS PS is putting out such briefings that are clearly wildly wrong and misleading.

NHS PS now owns 12 Eastern Devon community hospitals and many of us are on high alert awaiting news of the rents, which if Sidmouth’s case is anything to go by, could suddenly be hiked beyond affordability at any time. NHS PS claims it is part of the “NHS family” yet it behaves like an amoral profit-making corporation, with apparently no accountability to patients who fund its existence and rely on its ability to treat its tenants fairly.

For MONTHS now I have been chasing the company, which is wholly owned by the secretary of state for health, on how much income it takes compared with how much it spends on maintenance. They clearly don’t want to provide this information. I first asked for it in JUNE. And have asked several times since.

From the little dealings I have had with NHS PS, I don’t trust them one inch and I am disgusted with a government that created this very system.

Hugo Swire labelled me a scaremongerer in May for my concerns about NHS PS. He refused to take up the matter of the transfer of our local hospitals, with health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

I wonder if he still has as much confidence in the company as he did in May?

Sidmouth GPs infuriated at NHS Property Services misrepresentation to health watchdog councillors - Claire Wright

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