Patients vow to ‘march to Parliament’ over Sudbury GP surgery changes

Sudbury Primary Care Centre in Watford Road (pic: Google)

Sudbury Primary Care Centre in Watford Road (pic: Google) - Credit: Archant

Patients and staff in Sudbury are vowing to march to Parliament if NHS bosses insist on tendering out their popular GP surgery to a different group.

Grace Balogun will 'march to Parliament' to defend the services in her Sudbury Primary Care Centre i

Grace Balogun will 'march to Parliament' to defend the services in her Sudbury Primary Care Centre in Vale Farm - Credit: Archant

Tensions ran high at a packed meeting at Sudbury Primary Care Centre in Watford Road, today as patients were told the three-year contract with Intergrated Health CIC is due to end next April and will not roll over.

The surgery is run on an Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) contract, which means that it can be put out to a competitive process where a variety of providers can compete to run the surgery, not necessarily retaining staff.

In three years the surgery’s popularity has swelled from 5,000 to 8,400 patients.

NHS England (NHSE) are bulk tendering out 19 surgeries across Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon which many see as a “juicy prize” for any private providers such as Virgin and United Health, a US based healthcare company.

Councillors, staff and patients told NHSE managers to “go away and leave us alone” after it became clear they may lose doctors and staff.

Patients spoke passionately about the excellence of the service they receive.

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Grace Bologun, from Sudbury Town, said: “We will march to Parliament if they do this. If our doctors leave, we will leave. It’s madness. We want to keep the doctor’s by any means possible.”

Sharon Peppard, assistant head of primary care in NW London and her manager Kathy Dinning, senior care commissioning manager, said the GP’s could put in their own bid. This was seen as unfair as the practice doctors didn’t have the money, or the time, to compete against potential large companies.

The new APMS contracts will run for five years with an added five-year extension if the providers perform well.

Gaynor Lord, representative of the patient participation group, said: “Look at the detail and the new contracts are no better for the patients than the existing one. They should just let it roll over.”

The contracts will have service “obligations” including opening times of 8pm - 6.30pm, shorter than Sudbury’s which remains open until 8pm

Patients should expect to receive same day or next day appointment. Appointments can be booked at reception, by telephone or online and consultations can be done online.

Ms Peppard, said: “The contract will be a fixed price. We are not asking anyone to bid on price. What they will be judged on is their bid on quality.”

Dr Masooma Muraj, deputy practice manager at the surgery, said: “When it was out for tendering three years ago we put in a bid. There were lots of obstacles and we went in as a social enterprise. Now we are back at square one. It’s a constant battle.

“To have to go back and battle again, there is not only the uncertainty for patients and staff but also the stability and care that people need will be affected.”

Bob Twitchin, co-chair of patient participation group, said: “It’s totally unnecessary and a waste of time and money especially when the patients worked very hard in supporting doctors in getting contracts for the practice and want to continue working with them. We want to retain the stability and confidence we have in our gps. I know how much work they did in putting together the original bid, it’s extraordinary it’s going to tendering again.”

Paul Lorber, patient and former Liberal Democrat councillor , added: “This is creating a lot of unnecessary worry for a lot of local people. It’s a total waste of time and it’s undermining a good GP practice that provides a good service to a lot of people.

“NHSE should listen to the patients and leave our practice alone.”

Cllr Keith Perrin, Labour councillor for Northwick Park, said: “I wonder how much you know about this practice. I’m chair of the patient participation group and a councillor and you never consulted me. I could have told you this is a total waste of money. You should go away and leave this practice alone.”

Ms Peppard, said she would look at correspondence with Brent councillors, adding: “We have to abide by regulations. The next step for us is procurement.”

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