After struggling through a difficult time under special measures it seemed like this popular Felixstowe surgery was coming out into the light again after recently being classified as ‘good’. However on 20th January the management company – Suffolk GP Federation, who also manage services at MIU in Felixstowe General Hospital – announced it was pulling out of the contract due to the difficulties in recruiting another full time doctor.
Dr Fleming has been at Walton for some years – but she is the only permanent doctor there – and the Surgery has been relying on locums to fill the gaps for some time.
Suffolk GP Federation has managed Walton GP Surgery since November 2016 when Dr McKee retired.
Last week, they issued this statement
“…..as a result of difficulties recruiting permanent GPs, the Federation Board concluded it is not sustainable for us to continue managing the Surgery. We have reluctantly, therefore, decided to end our contract for managing the Surgery on 15 July 2020.
The Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is currently reviewing all available options to try to identify a sustainable long-term solution for the patients of Walton Surgery.
We are proud of the care provided by the Surgery and its high patient satisfaction. However, the difficulties recruiting GPs, which is a national challenge, means we cannot sustainably or safely staff the practice. We are consulting with staff at the Surgery and will work with NHS England and Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG on their future plans.”
The surgery caters for over 4000 patients – all who will have to be found new places at another surgery if it closes.
Is this a consequence of the NHS farming GP practice out to private firms? Suffolk GP Federation is described as a ‘not for profit’ entity – but no one who works for them works for free! The bottom line is these firms need to make money to pay their staff and be sustainable– and if they aren’t they will pull out and leave the GP Practice they are managing to its fate. Hence Health Care no longer becomes a ‘service’ but a ‘business’ – not what was envisaged when the NHS was created.
It seems that the only possibility Walton Surgery could remain open is if another Doctor could be found who was prepared to take the Surgery on as a Partner – but this seems unlikely given the countrywide shortage of GP’s.
A sad day indeed for the all the patients and for the hard working staff.