Cuts Special: Willesden patients fight to save GP Practice
Patients have urged health and council bosses to keep their their doctor’s practice open
Embattled patients are fighting to keep a popular GPs practice open after NHS bosses threatened it with closure - for the second time.
NHS Brent has announced it is considering shutting the Burnley Road Practice, which operates out of the Willesden Centre for Health and Care, in Robson Avenue, and ‘dispersing’ its 3,000 patients among other doctors.
A delegation of around half a dozen patients attended Brent Council’s Health Partnership meeting last Thursday to urge council and health bosses to rescue the practice.
Lesley Jones, a patient, claimed NHS Brent had tried to close the practice and shunt patients to other surgeries miles away without consultation.
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Ms Jones said: “Originally the NHS was going to send us to Wembley before we kicked up a fuss. We really are being shunted around.
“We have got used to this practice and its staff, and it is easy for us to get to. Moving us out of the centre is not an option.”
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Annette Thompson, chairwoman of the Burnley Patients Group, said: “We strongly want to stay where we are. A large number of patients at the practice are elderly and cannot travel far.
“The NHS has previously tried to close our practice, but we fought it off. Now it is happening all over again.”
The doctor’s surgery was originally based in Burnley Road, Dollis Hill, but this was closed in 2001 and patients sent to health clinics across the borough.
The clinic re-opened at the Willesden Centre for Health and Care in 2005, but the future of the practice was thrown into doubt again in 2008 when the managers, Brent Community Services, announced they no longer wanted to run the surgery.
NHS Brent are now exploring bringing in new management to take over the practice, or dispersing the patients across the borough.
But patients claim their views have been stifled by NHS bosses who have held meetings in the daytime when many cannot attend.
Paul Brown, a patient who took time off work in order to participate in consultation meetings with NHS representatives, said: “We feel that we have been disadvantaged ever since we lost our base in 2001.
“We feel we have been neglected.”
Jo Ohlson, director of primary and community commissioning at NHS Brent, said from NHS Brent, said: “There is clearly a very strong view from patients that they don’t like the option of dispersing.
“No decision has yet been made on the future of Burnley Road. We will be looking at the options and taking into account patients views and putting forward a preferred option.”