EMOTIONS ran high as patients of a High Crompton surgery pleaded with doctors to do more to keep the practice open.
As exclusively revealed in the June edition of the Correspondent, Trent Road surgery is threatened with closure.
That could mean patients-many of them elderly-having to travel into Royton to attend the main centre at Parks Medical Practice which was rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year.
As a result, around 50 people, including staff from Lifestyle Pharmacy on Trent Road, attended a public meeting at St Saviour’s Church, Buckstones Road to air their grievances.
A sign in the surgery explains, ‘the practice proposes to submit an application to close the branch surgery.
‘We want to offer all our patients extended hours, holiday immunisations, annual health checks, baby assessments and immunisations.
‘Unfortunately due to the size of the premises we are unable to mirror services currently offered at our Royton branch.’
But the decision has been met with anger by residents and councillors who want to save the surgery, which was opened about 30 years ago by Dr Saphal Pal and Dr Kirti Kohli.
Kashif Ali, from Lifestyle Pharmacy nearby the surgery, said: “The surgery has been there for about 30 years and now you want to close it. It’s not good enough.
“You have patients who have been coming their whole lives. You should work harder for them.
“40 per cent of our business comes from the surgery so there would definitely be an impact on us too.”
Pharmacist Usman Ali added: “We had to contact your patients to let them know about this meeting. I would say about 70 per cent are only here because we told them.
“We just ask that you make patients your first concern and fight to keep this surgery open.”
But Dr Kohli insisted: “It is very personal and we do not want to fail you. We have worked hard over the years to build it up and we are still working hard for you.
“But there are lots of challenges and constraints that have been put on us and we have to see if we can meet those.”
Dr Rakesh Kohli, who works at the surgery with her namesake, added: “We are fighting for you and doing our level best.
“The decision is in the hands of the CCG and NHS England. It is their national policy to amalgamate surgeries in favour of single point access.
“There are three surgeries closing every week in the UK so it is not just us. The decision is coming from the top but we are taking the brunt of it.
“If we do not meet the guidelines, they could close down Royton as well and that would be an even bigger disaster. They have done it to another surgery in Oldham already.
“Since the last inspection in June we have spent a lot of money on the surgery trying to improve it. We know what the issues and where we are not meeting requirements.
“We have applied for funding from NHS England before and we have been rejected.”
She highlighted problems with the existing building as needing two clinical rooms as a nurse cannot practice alone, disabled access, a fire exit, size of the rooms, and needing more than one toilet.
There were calls from attendees to look for another building fit for purpose if the existing surgery cannot be modified to meet requirements.
Other concerns included distance to get to the Royton practice, especially for elderly people, and difficulty getting an appointment quickly.
One resident said: “It will take about a two-hour round trip to get to Royton on the bus for a 10-minute appointment. I worry people will not go to the doctors when they need too as it is too far away.
“It is our generation that started putting money into the NHS but it is our generation that is going to suffer and miss out.”
Another added: “There are proposals to build hundreds of new homes in Royton which will bring in hundreds of new patients. Royton won’t cope with all that so to close one of the surgeries is crazy.”
Dr Kohli said future meetings will be held and patients can also give their suggestions and feedback by filling in a questionnaire at the surgeries.
“We are here to take away ideas and put forward a proposal. No decision has been made at the moment,” she insisted.
A spokesperson for NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group said: “NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been approached by the Parks Practice about the potential closure of its Trent Road branch surgery in High Crompton.
“The practice has not as yet applied to close the branch. Should it do so, the next stage would be for the practice to consult their registered patients.
“The outcomes of such a consultation, together with information on the strategic impact of the change, would then be considered by the CCG’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee before a final decision would be made.”
• Read the full CQC report online at: www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-562761826
• A petition has been launched in objection to the closure of Trent Road surgery.
Sign it online at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-trent-road-surgery or at Lifestyle Pharmacy.