Councillors are expressing concern over plans for two separate mergers of NHS GP surgeries in the south of Eastleigh Borough – and are formally objecting to a proposal to cease weekday bookable GP appointments in Bursledon.
Proposals to bring together the Hamble Blackthorn and Bursledon surgeries, and plans to merge St Luke’s in Hedge End and Botley GP practices within the Living Well Partnership, are currently the subject of public consultation.
A report to Thursday evening’s (29 July) meeting of Eastleigh Borough Council’s Cabinet highlights a number of issues, centred around accessibility and how close GP services are to patients: the report notes that an increasing number of consultations are carried out remotely using digital technology, which can exclude people without the skills or equipment needed to access services.
The report also highlights how people in vulnerable groups, or without ready access to transport, may find it difficult to travel further for face-to-face appointments, which could be offered in any one of the Living Well Partnership’ surgeries, including several that are some distance away in Southampton.
The Council is signalling its disappointment that, despite having worked with the NHS to create a purpose-built GP facility at the Lowford Centre, residents in the Bursledon and Old Netley area - who have some of the most acute health needs and highest levels of deprivation in the Borough - could lose their daytime GP services at the Lowford Centre.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Councillor Tonia Craig, said: “We are worried that these proposals will fail to put the interests of some of the Borough’s most vulnerable patients first. This risks them not seeking health advice and treatment at the right time and missing opportunities for prevention, which could lead to worse health outcomes and more cost for the NHS. Whilst we support increased use of digital healthcare solutions where appropriate, the importance of localism in delivering face-to-face health services shouldn’t be underestimated, and there is a strong preference for having them within walking distance of most patients.”
The full report can be found at: https://meetings.eastleigh.gov.uk/documents/s50031610/NHS%20Local%20Consultations.pdf