Village GP woes as ‘intermittent hours’ affect patients

Villagers have criticised the ‘intermittent hours’ at Congresbury’s GP surgery while they wait for a new health centre to be built

This is an edited version of an article first published by the North Somerset Times

Last January, Mendip Vale Medical Practice won planning permission to build a surgery in Smallway, but withdrew the plans in December, describing the move as a ‘pause in proceedings’ after it struggled to secure funding. Parish councillors said it was increasingly difficult to get an appointment in Congresbury and the service was getting ‘worse and worse’.

Chairman Arthur Hacking told North Somerset Council’s health scrutiny panel on February 6: “Congresbury was extremely well served until two years ago when the surgery closed without notice.

“We were ensured it was a temporary blip but since then we’ve had intermittent service.

“We have a population of more than 3,500 patients, many of them aged but also a lot of young families – primary care is of crucial importance.”

The Smallway centre was set to replace the surgeries in Yatton and Congresbury to meet the demands of 15,000 patients.

Mendip Vale Medical Practice executive manager David Clark said: “We have struggled to find the required funding from the NHS and CCG to make the much-needed Smallway site a reality.

“We will continue to look to see how we can improve our facilities for Yatton and Congresbury.

“Smallway, should funding be found, would have a build cycle of around 42 weeks.

“It would be great for us to have a modern facility to deliver services from, this would also help in the retention and recruitment of clinical staff, particularly GPs.

“Across the country, the growing demands from an increasingly elderly and more complex population is becoming harder to meet, however we, as a large group of practices, are well placed to continue to deliver sustainable care that is safe and effective.”

A spokesman for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Congresbury Surgery is open five days per week from 8.30am to 1.30pm and patients can access appointments at any of the five practices run by the group.

“If the practice wanted to propose a permanent change to the opening hours, then the CCG would require a thorough public consultation.”

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