Willen Village Surgery: Sorry is the hardest word for NHS England

Willen Surgery
Willen Surgery
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NHS England has failed to apologise for the sudden closure of Willen Village Surgery.

The body’s Hertfordshire and South Midlands Area Team issued a fresh statement this morning in which it thanked patients for helping to implement their own move to four different surgeries following the closure.

Willen Village Surgery

Willen Village Surgery

It also pledged to continue to ‘support’ the surgery’s 5,200 patients during this move.

But one word the 559 word statement fails to include is ‘sorry’.

Patients were left confused and angry after the sudden closure of the surgery last Friday.

A letter from NHS England only dropped onto people’s doorsteps on Saturday morning, and questions remained unanswered as to how disabled and elderly patients in the area – which includes retirement home Lovat Fields – will be able to get to the alternative surgeries in Newport Pagnell, Broughton Gate, Oakridge Park and Stantonbury.

The Citizen understands that independent experts HealthwatchMK have been asked to deal with queries from patients as the Welwyn Garden City-based NHS England do not have the required level of local knowledge.

Today’s statement does answer concerns regarding the transfer of patient records.

It states: ‘Steps have been taken to ensure all 5,200 sets of patient records (including paper and electronic records) were fast tracked to the receiving practices by the evening of Friday, April 12...

‘As part of the contingency arrangements a GP and a nurse have also been on duty at the Willen Village Surgery since its closure to redirect patients and provide help and advice to patients who required an urgent appointment or prescriptions issuing’.

The statement adds that work will be taking place in the coming weeks to review GP provision in the area and across MK.

But despite promises it would, the statement does not address a number of questions asked by the Citizen earlier this week.

It says that the surgery closed after practioner Dr Agnelo Lobo ‘resigned his contract’, but does not say when Dr Lobo handed his resignation in, if he had to serve a notice period, and – if he did – why patients were not informed of the forthcoming changes during this notice period.

It also failed to answer questions regarding his former partner, Dr Obiako ‘Eddy’ Okafor, who is currently suspended by the General Medical Council.

And NHS England failed to address concerns as to what will now happen to the empty Willen Village Surgery.

On top of this it remains unclear how the four alternative surgeries – which are already busy with their own patients – will cope with the sudden influx of new patients.

Former patients have been divided up between four different practices, depending on their surname.

The division will happen as below:

Surname A-C: Kingfisher Surgery, Elthorne Way, Newport Pagnell, MK16 0JR. Tel: 01908 618265

Surname D-O: Broughton Gate Health Centre, Glyn Valley Place, Broughton Gate, Milton Keynes, MK10 7EF. Tel: 01908 874444

Surname P-V: Oaxridge Park Medical Centre, 30, Textel Close, Oakridge Park, Milton Keynes, MK14 6GL. Tel: 0844 5769987 (low rate)

Surname W-Z: Purbeck Health Centre, Purbeck, Stantonbury, MK14 6BL. Tel: 01908 318989

The NHS England statement in full:

NHS England is committed to ensuring that patients in Milton Keynes continue to have access to high quality and safe GP services.

Dr Lobo, a single handed provider of General Medical Services, resigned his contract for the provision of GP services at Willen Village Surgery, Beaufort Drive, Willen, Milton Keynes, MK15 9ET with effect from 14 April 2013.

Following receipt of Dr Lobo’s notice of resignation we immediately began working to secure more time to ensure a smooth transition for patients. Unfortunately due to potential time limitations and restrictions on the use of the building this was not possible.

As soon as it became clear that the contract would terminate on 14 April 2013, we put in place emergency contingency arrangements to make sure that patients of Willen Village Surgery could continue to receive uninterrupted access to GP services. Our priority throughout has been to ensure continuity of care for all affected patients and to ensure the safe and smooth transition of services.

We have worked with Dr Lobo, practice staff, the district nursing team and other local partners to identify local GP practices with the capacity to accept the allocation of new patients. Their swift and positive response not only enabled all patients of the Willen Village Surgery to be allocated quickly to another practice where they could immediately access primary care, but also enabled us to provide patients with details of alternative practices with which they could register.

We are very grateful for the support of these practices and their quick responses to ensure the needs of patients were put first.As part of the process, Dr Lobo provided us with information which meant that appropriate measures could be taken to ensure the continuity of care for vulnerable patients.

We prioritised a swift transfer of these patients’ records to the relevant practices and highlighted specific clinical concerns to the clinicians involved. In addition, steps were taken to ensure that the District Nurses retained their caseload of housebound patients meaning these patients could continue to receive District Nurse care as before.

Further steps have been taken to ensure all 5,200 sets of patient records (including paper and electronic records) were fast tracked to the receiving practices by the evening of Friday 12 April 2013 in readiness for Monday 14 April. As part of the contingency arrangements a GP and a nurse have also been on duty at the Willen Village Surgery since its closure to redirect patients and provide help and advice to patients who required an urgent appointment or prescriptions issuing.

We recognise these developments have caused inconvenience to a number of patients and their families and we would like to thank the public and our partners for helping to implement these arrangements. We will continue to support patients over the next few days and weeks to make sure they have all the information they need and to provide any further assistance to ensure continuity of care.

Work will also continue in the coming weeks and months to review the provision of GP services in the area and across Milton Keynes. We will be working with local partners, including patient groups and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group in the coming months to develop a primary care strategy, which will consider in detail and make recommendations on the provision of GP services in the local area.