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Temporary closure of the branch surgery at Brough Posted on 26 May 2022

As you will all be aware, the practice has recently been facing some serious staffing challenges.

Over the last 4 years we have conducted an extensive recruitment campaign to try and recruit more GP’s, however unfortunately we have been unsuccessful. This issue is not unique to the Upper Eden Medical Practice and many practices across the UK are in a similar position.

Our lack of GP’s has had a chronic effect on our capacity to operate safely and effectively and regrettably this has resulted in us being unable to continue staffing our Brough surgery. Consequently we recently submitted a formal application to NHS England and NHS North Cumbria to close the surgery, which outlined the challenges we face and the steps we’ve taken to try and address the staffing situation.

The application was considered by NHS North Cumbria CCG’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee at its meeting on 18th May 2022.

The Committee agreed to a temporary closure of the branch surgery and relocation of services to the main practice surgery in Kirkby Stephen from 31st May 2022 for 6 months.

During this temporary closure, the practice will work closely with NHS North Cumbria CCG to explore other options that could hopefully mitigate the need for a complete closure of Brough surgery. NHS North Cumbria CCG will review the progress of the temporary branch closure after 3 months (on 1st September 2022) to assess how work is progressing with respects to finding alternative solutions. However if we are unable to recruit they can agree to a permanent closure 3 months later.

Please rest assured that we have worked tirelessly to try and avoid this situation and we are very disappointed to find ourselves in this position. We also appreciate that many of our patients are equally upset and frustrated by this. We will of course keep on working behind the scenes to rectify the matter and we will update you if the situation improves.

We sincerely apologise for the impact this has had on our services and we would be very grateful for your consideration and understanding at this difficult time.

Thank you

The GP Partners and Team at Upper Eden Medical Practice


FAQ

In light of the recent public engagement process we have received some questions from patients regarding continuity of services. Consequently we thought it would be helpful if we shared them with you all in the form of an FAQ below:

Q. If/when the surgery closes at Brough, what provision will be made for those unable to drive, to access services at Kirkby Stephen surgery. Public transport is virtually non-existent.

Should patients be unable to attend due to mobility issues and there are no family members, neighbours, friends or local volunteer drivers who could bring them to the surgery, then the treating Clinician may determine that a home visit is the best option.

We are also aware that the bus service doesn’t run every day and appreciate this can be a challenge. Consequently if patients highlight any transport issues when they call for an appointment, we will do our best to offer advice or try and structure the appointment in accordance with access to public transport.

Buses to and from Kirkby Stephen can be found at the following link:

https://www.kirkby-stephen.com/community-information/transport/buses-to-and-from-kirkby-stephen/

Q. What will happen to the building? Where will funds go from any potential resale bearing in mind that the building was partially funded via local fundraising?

Brough surgery became part of the Upper Eden Medical Practice over 25 years ago and as a consequence of the merger it became the sole property of the existing practice partners.

We have not received any specific donations for Brough for many years and they have long since been spent on equipment and improvements to services for our patient population in Brough. Since then, all patient donations have been left to the Upper Eden Medical Practice which encompasses all 3 of our surgeries and the funds continue to be used to benefit our entire patient population. Our largest purchase in recent years was our practice car, which is currently used for all our medication deliveries and therefore of huge benefit to those patients who are unable to collect their medication from the practice.

Q. Why is recruitment so difficult?

As we have expressed previously, we only applied to close the surgery due to a severe shortage of GPs which has left us with no other alternative. Due to our rurality and a national shortage of GP’s, this has seriously affected our ability to recruit any replacements for our retiring doctor’s.

Q. What about prescription collections?

We currently operate a prescription delivery service on Tuesdays and Fridays for patients aged 67 years and over and we happy to expand the service if required. However we are very keen to ensure that this service continues to be sustainable for those patients who really need it.

Consequently if you are able to come to Kirkby Stephen to collect your medication or already collect your medication from Kirkby Stephen, please continue to do so. Alternatively if you have a friend or relative who could potentially collect your medication on your behalf, we would also encourage you to utilise this option first wherever possible.

For more information or to check if you are eligible for delivery, please call the practice on 017683 71369 and ask to speak to a member of our dispensary team.

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