GPs’ anger as talks on future of Sidmouth’s Blackmore Health Centre stall

Sidmouth residents gathered at Blackmore Surgery to protest at the possible closure of the pract

Sidmouth residents gathered at Blackmore Surgery to protest at the possible closure of the practice. Hugo Swire MP made his way through an angry crowd as he met with surgery staff to discuss the future of the practice. - Credit:

‘We will await outcome of hospital beds consultation’ - NHSPS

Negotiations over the future of Blackmore Health Centre have stalled until a decision on the future of Sidmouth’s hospital beds is reached.

Sid Valley Practice partner Dr Joe Stych accused landlord NHS Property Services (NHSPS) of ‘endemic professional disrespect’ after what he says was another round of frustrating talks last week.

GPs have been battling to buy the surgery amid ongoing concerns for its future and announced their intentions to carry out badly-needed renovations to safeguard healthcare provision for the town.

NHSPS says it cannot sell the building while NHS services are required there and admitted it is now awaiting the outcome of a consultation on inpatient beds before progressing further.

Dr Stych criticised a failure of NHSPS to come back with documentation confirming resolution of billing errors – despite a request two months prior for the information.

He said: “I find it astounding that NHSPS attended the meeting with five managers to an audience with our patient participation group and MP (Sir Hugo Swire) without doing their homework.

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“This endemic professional disrespect seems to be a feature of NHSPS operation, which is making progress challenging.

“Several potential options were discussed, but it became obvious in the meeting that nothing will progress until we know the future of our community hospital. NHSPS is aware that the GPs are strongly behind both keeping our hospital operational and having a modern town centre GP healthcare facility.”

Dr Stych said NHSPS this week began repair work on Blackmore Health Centre and called it ‘ludicrous’ for the company to be spending money when its plan is to knock the building down and build a new surgery – at a time when community services are under threat.

A spokesman for NHSPS said: “In order to ensure best value for the NHS and the taxpayer, NHSPS aims to take a strategic approach to estate management and we will await the outcome of the beds consultation to assess any opportunities it affords for the healthcare estate in Sidmouth. While the consultation is ongoing, we are continuing work on the options to provide the practice with upgraded facilities on the health centre site.

“Confirmation of rent and service costs for this year and last year is being provided to the practice this week.

“Work on the windows is necessary in the short term and replacing them is preferable to boarding them up.”

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