Another GP surgery on the Isle of Wight is set to close — as doctors propose to turn it into a house.
Yarmouth Surgery, on Station Road, part of the West Wight Medical Practice, is believed to be closed as work needed to upgrade the practice and bring it up to current medical standards will not be funded by the NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (IW CCG), according to the retired doctors who own the surgery.
Being put up for sale
The doctors are looking to sell the building and turn it into a three-bed residential property as it used to be before it became a general practice.
An application submitted by Dr Gordon Walker, was the first news some local residents heard of the closure.
Closure entirely supported by the WWMP
In planning documents submitted to the Isle of Wight Council’s planning portal, Dr Walker said due to the expansion of the Brookside Health Centre in Freshwater, the other half of the West Wight Medical Practice (WWMP), there would be enough clinical capacity to deal with the additional demand coming from Yarmouth.
“The closure is entirely supported by the WWMP, which finds it very difficult to recruit doctors and would find it easier to provide general medical services to the West Wight population from one site as it has been encouraged to do so by NHS England.”
Closed since start of lockdown
At times, Yarmouth Surgery would close so staff could help provide safer support at the Freshwater site and has been closed since the Covid lockdown started.
Smith: The site is not Covid-safe
Managing director of the IOW CCG, Alison Smith, said the decision was made because the Yarmouth surgery was a small former residential property, not inspected by the Care Quality Commission, and with narrow parts, it was not possible to keep patients safely distanced under the Covid guidelines.
“The temporary closure allowed the practice to provide a clinically safe and resilient service in Brookside Surgery. Having a greater pool of GPs, clinical staff and admin staff on one site meant the surgery was able to continue providing services throughout the pandemic.
“Now that the landlords have sought to change the use of the Yarmouth Surgery site, and knowing the site is not Covid-safe, the CCG and practice will begin to consider the options for those patients who previously used the Yarmouth branch surgery.
“This will include a programme of engagement with patients and the community regarding the future provision, whilst recognising the branch surgery will remain closed as we continue to respond and see patients safely and with the required safe distance and infection protection measures at the Brookside Surgery.”
A ‘huge and unsustainable financial drain on the practice’
In a letter, submitted as part of the planning documents, Clive Oliver, managing director of Wight Primary Partnerships, told Dr Walker they accepted primary care services would stop at the surgery because they could not purchase the property as it would be a ‘huge and unsustainable financial drain on the practice’.
Yarmouth Town Council has submitted an objection to the application as they said it represents the loss of an important facility for Yarmouth and the West Wight.
Mayor got no response
Steve Cowley, mayor of Yarmouth, said the town had fought to save the surgery before but when he had tried to contact the surgery this time around he had no response by email or phone.
He told News OnTheWight,
“We have all done our bit to ‘Save the NHS’ during the pandemic but after years of austerity it seems there is no money left to save our Surgery open in Yarmouth.
“Covid will pass, but once the surgery is lost it is unlikely to return.
“Previous partners in the West Wight Practice who own the property want to convert it back to a dwelling, which no doubt will be sold to someone as a second home.
“Yarmouth is a victim of its own attractiveness; it’s a great place to live, a great base for a second home having a ferry service and a great harbour as a base for sailing, but for West Wight young people, it’s a place where they cannot afford to live.
“The thousands of patients in Yarmouth, Thorley, Wellow, Bouldnor, Newbridge, Ningwood and Shalfleet will lose the ability to visit a health services in Yarmouth.”
To view, or comment, on the application, 20/01543/FUL, you can visit the Isle of Wight Council’s planning portal.
10.35am 21 Oct 2020 – Comment from Steve Cowley added
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed