Proposed Transfer of GP Services from St Martins Surgery to Chirk Surgery
As you may be aware, we have had to make some difficult choices and changes to the way we work over the past year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, one of which has been the temporary closure of our St Martins branch surgery.
Since then, we have considered a number of different options to re-open the building. Unfortunately, we do not have a viable alternative arrangement that would enable us to improve the situation and provide a safe and appropriate standard of care in St Martins. Whilst we have enjoyed a long history in St Martins, the building itself is in great need of internal renovation and we very much wish to continue to offer high quality services but in a safe and sustainable way.
Sadly, we have therefore decided that we have no option but to propose an amalgamation of our two surgeries and, as such, we are applying to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to consider our proposal to close GP services at St Martins.
We understand this may be potentially upsetting and worrying for our patients. We want to reassure you that there will not be any adverse effect to services and have put together below some frequently asked questions and answers that may address some of your concerns. The questions will also be available on our website www.chirksurgery.co.uk and will be posted on the side door of the St Martins surgery. Hopefully, they will provide some background for this decision and an explanation for the proposed changes to help reassure you that, apart from location, your services will be unaffected and likely enhanced.
However, before we make any decision on the future of the surgery, we want to find out the views of our patients and stakeholders. We would welcome any comments, both positive and negative, and would ask you to forward your comments direct to the North Wales Community Health Council which is the independent health watchdog representing the interests of patients and the public in North Wales.
You can contact the CHC in confidence as follows:
Mrs Carol Williams, Deputy Chief Officer, North Wales Community Health Council, 11 Llys Castan, Ffordd y Parc, Parc Menai, Bangor LL57 4FH
01248 679284 (ext 3)
(A telephone service is in place. Messages are regularly checked by staff who will aim to return your call by the next working day).
We would be grateful to receive your replies by 25 June 2021.
Please be assured that your feedback will be treated confidentially and will not be shared outside of the practice, CHC and the Health Board.
Frequently Asked Questions
This has been prepared to help answer some of the questions you may have about the proposed closure of St Martins Branch Surgery. St Martins is part of Chirk Surgery.
Q. Why is St Martins currently closed?
A. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision was made to temporarily close St Martins in March 2020. This decision was taken in order to protect the safety of both patients and staff.
Q. Why do we want to close the branch site permanently?
A. The branch surgery was originally put in place in order to allow for the increasing need in demand to be met. The main surgery in Chirk at that time was located on Castle Road. That building was a small listed cottage, had no room for expansion and was not large enough to accommodate the number of GPs, nurses and patients. Since that time numbers of staff and patients have continued to increase. Furthermore, the premises in Chirk moved to a new purpose-built building that conforms to modern requirements for primary care. This building is big enough to accommodate all of the services that the practice delivers, and over the last 12 months it has been shown that the main surgery in Chirk has the capacity to accommodate all of the branch surgery staff and has the space to provide centralised services for both Welsh and English patients.
Due to the limitations of the building (outlined below), the branch surgery in St Martins does not offer the full range of primary care services that are offered in Chirk.
- The lay out of the property and size of some of the rooms at St Martins do not enable the staff and patients to socially distance, especially within the GP consulting room. It is expected that social distancing rules will continue long after 21 June.
- There is no suitable space to accommodate a separate area for baby change and feeding.
- Wheelchair access in to the GP room is extremely difficult and the building cannot accommodate larger wheelchairs or scooters.
- There is no room within the reception area of St Martins to provide a private space for conversations at reception.
- The surgery is a teaching practice and is unable to provide space to accommodate medical students to see patients within the building. The training roles of the GPs has been expanded to allow placements and supervision for increased numbers of medical students, GP trainees and nurses. GPs are not able to supervise these trainees within this building and continuing to keep it open will negatively affect the numbers of trainees we can accommodate. This will be detrimental to the future NHS plan in Wales.
- The property does not fully meet the 21st century health facility standards.
- Delivery of services across two sites would involve significant financial investment in order to recruit additional staff to manage and operate a second site. The staff are also working overtime to ensure that Covid vaccination clinics are provided by the practice and are unable to commit to any additional hours for this purpose.
Q. What services can patients access in Chirk?
A. The new purpose-built Castle Health Centre, completed in June 2014, allowed the practice to centralise its services. This main site provides better access, improved communication between health care providers i.e. DNs, Physiotherapist, Podiatry, Midwife and Health Visitors who all occupy the same building. The premises can accommodate all Welsh and English patients and has additional space to expand services if or when necessary.
By providing services under one roof ensures that patients get better access to a wider range of support for their needs. Patients will be able to get an appointment more easily with the right person for their needs.
Q. Where will I access GP Services?
A. You will be able to access the full GP Services from Chirk Surgery, Castle Health Centre, Colliery Road, Chirk, LL14 5DH
Q. Do I need to do anything?
A. No. Your registration will not be affected, as all patients are registered at Chirk Surgery already.
Q: Will the Doctor or Nurse be able to access my clinical record at Chirk Surgery?
A. Yes, health professionals can access your full clinical record from Chirk Surgery.
Q. Do I have to stay with Chirk Surgery?
A. No. If you do not wish to remain with the practice you are free at any time to register with another GP practice, provided you live within their inner boundary. Further details of practices local to your home can be found by visiting ‘Find a GP’ on the NHS website
Q. Will I have the same access to appointments?
A. Yes. As our reception team here at Chirk currently handle all calls and appointments for all sites, you will still be able to access appointments as you do currently: by telephone, in person and online.
Q. What happens if I move out of my GP area in the future?
A. Our boundaries have not been changed, so the same rules still apply. If you move outside of the practice boundary you may be asked to register with a practice nearer to your new address for you to be able to access the full range of services.
Q. How can I order my medication?
A. In the same way that you do now. Via My Health On Line, Chirk Surgery post box, online consultation option via our website and by post. However, during this Covid-19 period, we prefer to handle paper as little as possible, so we welcome online methods.
Q. How can I collect my medication?
A. We have no plans to change anything for our St Martins based patients, so you will still be able to pick up your medication from a local pharmacy of your choice. You can nominate your choice of pharmacy when you order your prescription and can collect directly from them no matter where you are registered.
Q. Does my practice allow online access to appointments and request medication?
A. Yes. If you would like online access to your patient record to be able to book an appointment and request repeat medication, you will be able to do so by using My Health Online. (During the Covid-19 pandemic, the appointment booking option has been temporarily suspended, as we currently operate a telephone triage system and invite you in if needed.) Contact us for an application form for online access.
Q. Will there be more GP sessions or appointments at Chirk Surgery to compensate for the closure of the branch surgery?
A. There has been no drop in the number of appointments as, since March 2020, the GP and Nurse appointments were transferred to Chirk Surgery. Due to no requirement for staff to travel between the two sites, the practice can also accommodate more appointments previously used for travel time.
Q. How will appointments be affected?
A. The practice has been operating an online, telephone triage/video consultation model over the Covid-19 pandemic. This service is available to all patients, regardless of their distance from the surgery. Most of the population now own a mobile phone, PC or tablet to enable access to these services. Patients will still be able to access face to face appointments if invited by the GP or Nurse.
The practice has introduced alternative methods of contact e.g. online consultation button via their website and by email. Both forms of communication have proved popular and use of these methods continue to increase.
Q. I am under the care of the District Nurse, will this continue?
A. Yes. If you are already under the care of a health care professional outside of the surgery (i.e. Community Nurses, Specialist at the Hospital etc) this will continue without disruption; you can contact them via the usual channels.
Q. How will patients who do not drive access the surgery?
A. For those patients who do not have their own transport, there is an hourly bus service between St Martins and Chirk.
Patients’ records can also contain an alert to advise reception staff of any transport issues to offer a range of appointment times to accommodate this.
Q. Can I continue to have treatment at my usual Hospital?
A. Yes, it doesn’t matter which GP surgery you are registered at – you will still be able to choose which hospital you want to be treated at.
Q. I need a home visit, who will come and see me?
A. Home visit requests will be assessed by a clinical staff member in the normal way. If a home visit is necessary then you will be seen by an appropriate member of our clinical team. All housebound patients have the right to a home visit if they are too ill to attend the surgery. The practice continues to provide home visits, particularly to those older or disabled patients who are unable to travel.
Q. How can I feedback my views about the proposed closure?
A. Patients are invited to feedback their views to the Community Health Council who will be responsible for collating all feedback and views. Please do not contact the practice directly. All feedback should be submitted to them by 25 June 2021. Their contact details can be found on the accompanying letter.
Q. Has the decision already been made on the future of the St Martins branch surgery?
A. No decisions will be taken about the future of St Martins without taking full account of the consultation feedback, once the consultation period has closed.
Published: May 20, 2021