ISSUES surrounding a doctors’ surgery need to be resolved for the sake of patients, community councillors say.
Hightown surgery on Brynycabanau Road, Wrexham closed in October last year because of a shortage of staff, but partners at the main Gardden Road Surgery in Rhos were told to keep it open on an ad hoc basis after Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) said it would withhold £5,000 of funding for every month it remained shut.
The partners say they have struggled to find new doctors and locum GPs to work at the branch because of the state of the building and its poor computer system – and as a result decided to close the facility.
But earlier this month a letter was received from the health board once again threatening to withdraw £5,000 per month, as of December 18.
In a previous statement the health board said it would consider the partners’ formal application for closure once it was received, along with any responses from patients.
Now members of Caia Park Community Council have called on all parties concerned to try to bring matters to a head.
Whitegate councillor Brian Cameron said: “I’ve had a lot of meetings about Hightown surgery and to say we’re having fun and games is an understatement.
“There’s conversations going on between Betsi Cadwaladr and the practice concerned, but the practice concerned is not playing ball with Betsi and the community health council.”
However, community council chairman, Cllr Marc Jones, questioned Cllr Cameron’s version of events.
He said: “My understanding is the practice has sought to offload the surgery to another practice and Betsi is not accepting that.
“My problem is if they can’t afford to take it on and another practice can, it’s ludicrous to say you can’t do that.
“I think we should send a strong message to Betsi, the community health council and the practice and say ‘sort yourselves out as it’s not fair to the patients’. It’s been dragging on for a while and I’ve been getting people complaining.”
Members agreed to write to all three parties to highlight their concerns.
In response to comments made by Cllr Jones, a Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesman said: “The GMS [General Medical Services] contract regulations do not allow the health board to transfer branch surgeries from one practice to another.
“The practice has now completed its patient engagement exercise and submitted a formal application to close the branch.
“The community health council is reviewing the responses received from patients as part of the patient engagement exercise and will provide comment to the health board following its review.
“The health board will be meeting with the practice shortly for further discussion on the future of the branch surgery.”