attack Burnham Medical Centre changes at public meeting
40 people attended a public meeting in Burnham-On-Sea last night
(Thursday) to air their concerns about a controversial decision
to withdraw vital Warfarin blood testing at the town's medical centre
due to a shortage of doctors and nurses.
first reported here
by Burnham-On-Sea.com, Burnham & Berrow Medical Centre has written
to 230 patients stating that it has "to concentrate resources
on providing essential general practice services" due to the
July 1st, the life-saving Warfarin blood testing and management
service is being withdrawn and patients have been advised to use
other medical centres instead.
40 people at Thursday's public meeting at Burnham's BAY Centre spoke
out against the abrupt decision and voted to keep lobbying the centre
over the changes.
Chappel from Bridgwater Trades Union Council, who chaired the
meeting, said: "We have grave misgivings about what's going
on in our NHS locally. Residents were given very, very short notice
that this important life-saving service would be withdrawn."
Harris, a Wells GP and representative of the Somerset Clinical
Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "The CCG did not take this
decision. Burnham and Berrow Medical Centre took the decision itself
since they did not have the staff."
decision is deeply unfortunate and deeply undesirable and not going
to help anyone. We are continuing to work with the practice to try
and see the service returned."
to criticism that the one month's notice was inadequate, Mr Harris
added: "It's not good for anyone. All parties will have to
look back and ask if there is anything they could have done differently.
I know it has been deeply worrying for residents."
the meeting - which was organised by Unite Somerset Community Branch
and Bridgwater Trades Union Council - Mike Lang, a Burnham-On-Sea
patient who is affected by the changes, said: "The letter from
the practice explaining that the service would be withdrawn came
as a complete bombshell."
should have known weeks or even months in advance. One friend was
so disgusted that he said he would consider stopping taking Warfarin,
which the doctor says would be suicide."
Brooks said he has been taking Warfarin for four years and asked:
"Why have patients not been encouraged to take alternative
medicines instead to make it easier for the practice?" Will
Harris explained that it would likely be "more expensive"
to offer an alternative treatment.
audience member said: "There are elderly people affected here
with mental health issues who cannot decide what to do - they are
vulnerable people who won't be able to get to Highbridge Medical
Centre. It worries me that Highbridge will be able to handle another
230 Warfarin patients from Burnham."
Munt, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in Burnham,
said: "It is difficult and expensive for some of these local
people with transport difficulties to get to other medical centres.
Many don't want to change. I know my parents in law have been with
the same doctor for many years and would not want to change."
Clarke added: "Why weren't the Burnham & Berrow Patient
Participation Group (PPG) more involved? I feel there should have
been some kind of meeting held by the surgery to discuss the changes."
Kelly, Chairwoman of the Burnham & Berrow Patient Participation
Group, said: "We should have been involved a lot earlier -
months ago - but we were just as shocked as the patients to read
about the changes."
Jones added: "We didn't get a choice to stay or leave Burnham
Medical Centre. The management side of the surgery is horrendous.
They've totally ignored their patients."
Dragt said: "There is real anxiety about how Highbridge
will handle 230 Warfarin patients. No-one knows how they will manage
to cope with all these extra people."
Paul Gilroy added: "Where will this stop? What's next?
The Warfarin treatment is such an important service that I think
the surgery is no longer fit for purpose and should not be operating.
They should be treated with contempt."
added: "They have known for over a year ago that this was coming
- it really is terrible and all patients should be concerned. They
could be planning to do this to more patients with other conditions
in the future."
audience member queried whether any patients who are unable to travel
to Highbridge for medical reasons will be able to take legal action.
to general local medical provision, Phoebe Pearce raised
concerns about the number of doctors at the Burnham centre, saying:
"A big issue here in Burnham is the lack of doctors. A few
years ago there were ten GPs, and now there only three. The service
has been cut right back."
Munt added: "We should also be concerned that the A&E
at Weston Hospital is being temporarily closed overnight. With tens
of thousands of visitors each year, how will it cope? The pressure
is on. Some have been quoted as saying 'there's no crisis in our
NHS' but I think there is."
audience member raised concerns about the letter sent out by the
medical centre, claiming it had been "inaccurate" because
a nurse plans to take holiday leave which may lead to the Warfarin
service actually finishing a week earlier than the July 1st date
mentioned. But Will Harris from the CCG responded: "I
haven't heard this before tonight, but if that's the case we will
want to know more and will follow that up."
meeting concluded with several votes from the audience.
first proposal, from Dave Chappel, was a motion requesting that
Weston A&E's temporary overnight closure be reversed. The proposal
was carried with a show of hands in favour. The proposal will be
sent to the Chief Executive of Weston Area Health Trust, local MPs,
the Secretary of State and the ambulance trust.
second proposal from Tessa Munt will ask the CCG to identify whether
any other medical services in the Burnham-On-Sea area are threatened
in a similar way to the Warfarin testing. The proposal was also
carried with a show of hands in favour.
third proposal, from Mike Lang, was that the group should continue
lobbying over the changes at Berrow and Burnham Medical Centre.
The proposal was carried with a show of hands.
group is planned to lobby the CCG outside its AGM later this month
on June 28th. Members also plan to attend an open day at Highbridge
Medical Centre on June 21st to hear more about its capabilities.
Kelly, Chairwoman of the PPG, told Burnham-On-Sea.com afterwards:
"I thought it was a good meeting - I was very pleased that
we had Will along from the CCG to answer some questions in the absence
of anyone from the medical centre. I don't know whether we saw support
this evening or whether people are just feeling frightened and vulnerable
about the changes."
James Heappey was unable to attend the meeting due to another engagement
in London, however one of his staff attended and the MP released
a statement before the meeting.
was noted by the meeting's Chairman that no-one from Burnham and
Highbridge Town Council or Burnham and Berrow Medical Centre had
attended the meeting.