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LETTER: No argument, Tettenhall surgery must stay open

Tettenhall | Readers' letters | Published:

The people of Tettenhall Wood have already spoken, say these patients of the under-threat Wood Road Surgery.

Residents came out in numbers for a public meeting about Wood Road Surgery's potential closure

We are apparently in a period of consultation over the proposed closure of Wood Road surgery – but the people of Tettenhall Wood have already spoken,

More than 2,300 signatures on a petition to save the surgery and 200 concerned local residents attending a public meeting on a rainy Thursday evening in Wolverhampton tells its own story about the impact this proposal will have on GP services locally.

In any ordinary sense of the word, consultation should involve taking on board concerns expressed by stakeholders, engaging constructively with them and acting accordingly.

Indeed in an article published recently, Helen Hibbs from the Wolverhampton Care Commissioning Group (WCCG) claimed to be listening.

Yet in outlining her vision of modern primary health care going forward, not one of the concerns raised during the public meeting was addressed.

Tettenhall Medical Practice's branch on Wood Road

Access to Lower Street clinic is difficult for Wood Road patients as there is no regular bus service and many patients do not have access to a car.

One resident described her journeys to and from Lower Green with her wheelchair-bound husband negotiating the steep hill to get to the Tettenhall Road. She described how on one occasion her husband had fallen out of his wheelchair in their attempt to reach the clinic.

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For those who have their own transport, concerns were raised regarding parking and congestion at Lower Street.

Another patient described how she had to drive around for nearly 20 minutes to find somewhere to park before visiting her GP. Congestion around the Lower Street Clinic has been a problem for some time and moving 4,000 Wood Road Surgery patients to Lower Street would only make these problems worse.

It was mentioned ambulances and the fire brigade might find it impossible to attend to emergencies if congestion increases. One resident of Grotto Lane described how patients, desperate to find somewhere to park, had blocked in his drive.

During the meeting the public learnt that one of the reasons for the proposed closure are rising costs. Residents were shocked to hear that rent for the Wood Road medical practice had gone up by 400 per cent in a year, from £11,000 to a staggering £42,000.

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Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the proposal, there can be no doubt that the formal consultation itself has been botched. Tettenhall Medical Practice advertised “drop-in” sessions on 13 and 15 May but then conducted them like a public meeting.

Why did the practice fail to advertise the second drop-in session on 3 July so patients were unaware it was happening? In addition, the survey sent to all patients was heavily criticised at the public meeting.

When the panel comprised of doctors, practice management and representatives of the CCG tried to argue that demand for appointments at Wood Road Surgery had dropped, angry residents told them that was no surprise, as patients were often forced to attend Lower Green against their wishes. As such, any use of patient visit figures would be a wholly unreliable and discredited way to calculate demand.

We would like Wood Road Surgery to remain open because it offers easily accessible healthcare at the point of need. This is particularly relevant for the elderly, patients with disabilities, low-income families and families with small children.

Interestingly, the WCCG has to date not published an Equalities Impact Assessment which it is obliged to do under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In addition, there appears to have been insufficient consideration given to environmental impact, parking and congestion. Most importantly, The conduct of the consultation and the survey itself are flawed.

That is why we have requested a copy of the Equalities Impact Assessment under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and why we are calling for the consultation – which is currently scheduled to finish in a week’s time – to be halted, reviewed and for a new, independent process to begin as soon as is practical, following discussions with the CCG.

Dennis Green, Pat Morris, Mark Hamblett, Jane Hamblett, Anja Ellersiek, Steven Poole, Valerie Payne, Chris Payne

All patients of Wood Road Surgery

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