Lakeside Healthcare in Stamford seeks to reassure patients and slams 'misleading statements' about St Mary's Medical Centre closure
A partnership of GPs has slammed ‘misleading statements’ about its move to close St Mary’s Medical Centre in Stamford.
Lakeside Healthcare has sought to reassure patients that their welfare is its “top priority” and their views will help shape the future of its services.
A spokesman said: “Lakeside Healthcare would like to assure patients that despite a number of misleading statements of a worrying nature that are being circulated, patient welfare remains at the top of our priorities – both now and in the future.
“To date we have received 976 responses to our patient survey and this has provided us with some invaluable input into our planning for the St Mary’s closure and the short and longer term delivery of primary healthcare services for the people of Stamford.”
The organisation, which comprises 75 practising and retired doctors, aims to close the St Mary’s surgery on Wharf Road on December 1.
It plans to move the 15,000 patients to its other practice, Sheepmarket, which is based on the grounds of Stamford and Rutland Hospital on Ryhall Road and would be modified to cope with the extra demand.
Lakeside claims it ended the lease at St Mary’s as it had plans to create a GP hub on the hospital site - but these were scuppered by the site owners, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.
For its part, the NHS trust remains adamant that it gave Lakeside every opportunity to purchase land when it was put up for sale.
Lakeside has also claimed it had to vacate St Mary’s as the building’s owners wanted to increase rent and maintenance costs - something the landlords flatly deny.
The situation has caused uproar in the town, with campaigners and patients saying Sheepmarket will not be able to cope with the extra pressure.
Almost 1,000 people have now taken part in Lakeside’s survey, which is part of a consultation that runs until October 25.
The Lakeside spokesman said: “From feedback received to date, the main issues appear to be: the length of time patients are waiting on telephone to speak to the surgery; the ability to get an appointment; car parking capacity and dispensary queues. And there are concerns that closing St Mary’s site will make all of these issues worse.
“We have identified various options for improving each of these which will be subject to a rigorous appraisal.”
She also said 20 per cent more people were now making use of telephone and digital consultations, meaning the vast majority of patients are dealt with within 24 hours, compared to three weeks before the pandemic.
“Anyone who is clinically assessed as needing a face to face appointment will receive one,” she added.
However, the Patient Participation Group (PPG) representing all patients of Lakeside Stamford remains unconvinced.
Chair Andrew Nebel said he and the committee would be meeting with Lakeside’s project team to understand what measures would be taken to ensure Sheepmarket could cope with the extra patients from St Mary’s.
“If a new bigger medical centre was thought necessary in 2018 before there were any changes in infrastructure, then we need to understand why this is no longer their thinking, particularly as the patient appointment numbers given in Lakeside’s recently published newsletter show there would be a 69 per cent increase in face-to-face sessions if everyone previously seen at St Mary’s now had to be seen at Sheepmarket,” he said.
“We don’t think this is feasible, even allowing for an increased use of telephone and on-line appointments so we will be challenging Lakeside’s planning assumptions.”
The closure will only happen if the local NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) approves it. CCG bosses will consider the proposals once the consultation period is over and plans are submitted.
To take part in the survey visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/stmarysclosure