More than 6,000 people in Reading will have to join a new GP surgery after being told that Priory Avenue Surgery will close down on 30 June 2018.
The failing surgery had been run by OneMedicalGroup (OMG), a Leeds-based company, which ‘mutually’ decided with Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (BWCCG) to end its contract to run primary care services in Caversham. This follows an earlier decision to also end OMG’s management of Circuit Lane Surgery in Southcote (which was taken over by Western Elms Surgery from 1 April 2018).
No local surgery could be found with enough capacity to take all Priory Avenue Surgery patients, so patients are being given a range of options, depending on where they live:
- people living north of the river are being invited to tell the CCG if they wish to join either the nearby Balmore Park Surgery (which has committed to taking 3,000 of Priory Avenue’s patients), or Emmer Green Surgery (which has said it will take 1,500 patients);
- if people living north of the river don’t want to join Balmore Park or Emmer Green, they can apply directly to one of four other surgeries;
- people living south of the river will have to choose from one of 12 GP surgeries across Reading and apply directly to their preferred surgery to see if they can join it as a new patient.
Patients north of the river must reply to the CCG by 8 June 2018 and surgery preferences will be allocated on a first come, first served, basis. People who miss the deadline will be be allocated to a GP surgery by the CCG to ensure they have access to medical care once Priory Avenue closes. Patients south of the river who have not registered with a new practice by 8 June 2018, will also be allocated a practice by the CCG.
To help patients make an informed choice, Priory Avenue’s Patient Participation Group has produced comparison tables of local surgeries, which include their latest quality ratings, patient survey findings, size and distance. There is a table for people living north of the river, and a table for people living south of the river.
Healthwatch Reading has also urged the CCG to ensure people who are vulnerable, such as those with disabilities, or old and frail patients, are prioritised for a place at a local practice and not penalised for any delays they experience in getting in touch with the CCG or their potential new practice.
The CCG is planning to hold two information meetings for patients: on Tuesday 29 May, 4.30pm-5.30pm and Wednesday 6 June, 7pm-8pm, both at Caversham Hall, 5 St John’s Road (next to the church), Caversham, RG4 5AN.
Patients were told the news in a letter sent out on 22 May 2018 from the CCG’s chief officer Cathy Winfield. The letter urges people with any queries to phone the CCG’s Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) on 0118 982 2720.
Members of Priory Avenue’s patient participation group, and/or Healthwatch Reading staff, will be in the main waiting area of the surgery to answer questions and help with form filling where that would be appreciated:
Wednesday 23 May at 3pm
Thursday 24 May at 10am
Tuesday 29 May at 10am and 3pm
Thursday 31 May at 10am
Tuesday 5 June at 10am
Wednesday 6 June at 3pm
Thursday 7 June at 10am
People who want to give feedback about the process or raise any issues, can also call Healthwatch Reading for independent, free and confidential advice on 0118 937 2295.