Patients at Sudbury GP surgery claim NHS ignored their fears

Photo by Adam Tiernan Thomas

Photo by Adam Tiernan Thomas - Credit: Archant

Patients opposing plans which could see their community-run GP surgery in Sudbury taken over by a private healthcare provider say NHS bosses have ignored their concerns.

Last week they held a protest to highlight their fears that their surgery could become a ‘super practice’, resulting in them losing their doctors.

They have spoken out to deny claims made by NHS England that it had undertaken “extensive engagement activities with patients” over the surgery’s future.

The patients claim NHS England failed to inform the surgery’s team of GPs of plans to ‘market’ the contract, which led to them missing the December 8 deadline to bid to extend their contract.

Gaynor Lloyd, from the Sudbury patient participation group, told the Times their opinions on the proposed changes have been snubbed.

She said: “The damage has already been done and our views certainly haven’t been taken into consideration.

Their suggestion that the surgery’s doctors didn’t work hard enough to secure a bid is totally untrue and upsetting to our patients; they weren’t given the correct information.”

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Adding that the group will be lodging a formal complaint to Monitor, the healthcare watchdog, she said: “The doctors at the surgery were not given adequate warning of the key dates in the tender process.

“We now have 8,500 patients who are afraid they’re going to lose their doctors.”

Grace Balogun, 69, a patient at the surgery vowed they would “fight to the last” to keep their doctors and echoed demands for patients’ voices to be heard.

Paul Lorber, a patient and former leader of Brent Council, said: “The first I heard about the threat to my doctors came in a letter from NHS England advertising a meeting received two days after the date for the meeting.”

A spokesman for NHS England said it followed the legal procedures by undertaking the procurement process in an open, fair and transparent way.

He added: “An advert was placed on the government’s website Contracts Finder to notify potential providers of NHS England’s commissioning intentions. The current provider of services at Sudbury Vale Surgery has not put itself forward as part of the tendering process and unfortunately no further submissions can be accepted at this stage.”

Campaigners will meet with Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council and Melanie Smith, director of public health at Brent Council on March 16 to discuss their concerns.