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Scrap surgery handover’ plan, NHS bosses urged

PUBLISHED: 01:16 27 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 05 October 2010

OUTRAGED patients have called for health chiefs to back down over plans to hand over their surgery in London’s deprived East End to new management. Members of the patients’ forum at Bethnal Green’s Pollard Row surgery packed into the practice to discuss its future with bosses from Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust—after being told last month the trust was looking to other East End practices to take over the surgery

Gemma Collins

OUTRAGED patients have called for health chiefs to back down over plans to hand over their surgery in London’s deprived East End to new management.

Members of the patients’ forum at Bethnal Green’s Pollard Row surgery packed into the practice to discuss its future with bosses from Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust—after being told last month the trust was looking to other East End practices to take over the surgery.

The practice has two full-time GPs, one of whom has been on sick leave since May.

A number of “very serious complaints” had been received about the practice, according to Commissioning chief Andrew Ridley.

These included complaints from elderly patients, with one upheld by Healthcare Commission, the NHS watchdog.

Mr Ridley said told the meeting: “There have been serious concerns about this practice and about the quality of services. We have had a lot of distressing letters.”

But the patients’ forum is worried that new managers would reduce the surgery’s services and the practice could follow in the footsteps of St Paul’s Way in Bow, three miles away, which was handed over to a private IT firm, Atos Origin.

The forum’s chair, Ruth Bunbury, told Mr Ridley: “We want you to disembark on any decision with an outside organisation.

“You are denying Pollard Row the chance to manage itself, but are not even willing to invest in our GPs.”

She added: “If you negotiate with an outside provider, it sends the message out that we are a failing practice’—but we are not. It is thriving.”

She warned that the practice would “not go quietly.”

The board of the primary care trust guaranteed earlier this year that its five remaining surgeries would become independent.

The commission chief agreed to have a patient representative on the selection panel to help pick the managers and promised patients would “notice no difference except improvements.”

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