A Derbyshire GP branch is set to close due to “challenging” staffing difficulties and “workload pressures”.
The Staffa Health GP Practice, based in north Derbyshire, says that it could quickly become “unviable” if it does not close one of its branches.
As it stands, the practice is based from Tibshelf, with three smaller branches in Holmewood, Pilsley and Stonebroom.
The GP practice is proposing to close its branch in the small village of Pilsley, east of Clay Cross – which serves around 2,800 patients.
In total, the practice employs 60 permanent staff.
However, it says that staffing four sites has become “increasingly difficult” and it has had to resort to spending more on costly locum (temporary) staff.
A report from the Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Staffa Health have outlined a challenging workforce position and in common with other GP practices is experiencing difficulties in retaining and recruiting to GP, nurse and pharmacist sessions. In the last three years the practice has lost a Salaried GP and two GP Partners, partially due to undesirable multi-site working and workload pressures
“With a reduction in GP numbers, staffing four sites with a GP has become increasingly difficult.
“The practice has resorted to using locums to cover at some branch sites and the spend on locums for the financial year 2018-19 is threefold that of previous years and has put the practice in a difficult financial position which if not addressed will, they state, make the practice unviable.
“The practice has submitted an application to close Pilsley surgery to allow them to operate from fewer sites which they describe as being more manageable, safe and cost effective and sustainable with the number of GP sessions that are available to them.
“This would follow a 60 day consultation period with patients from all four localities and other local practices and stakeholders.
“Staffa Health states that the overall sustainability of the practice is reliant on attracting new GPs and new Partners when current partners leave the business in the next few years.
“They believe that fewer sites will make the practice a more attractive career option for future incoming GPs.”
Yesterday, (Monday, July 15), Dr Ruth Cater, manager of the Staffa Health GP Practice, spoke at the Derbyshire County Council health scrutiny committee.
Dr Cater reiterated that it was just the closure of a branch that was being proposed, not the whole practice.
She said that some elderly or frail patients would not be able to make use of public transport to get to the other GP branches.
Dr Cater said there would be a shuttle bus which would run twice an hour from the Pilsley branch to Tibshelf.
She said: “We are not going to be losing any staff, all staff would be transferred to other sites.
“Patient numbers will remain the same.
“I don’t envisage waiting times increasing any higher than they are now.
“We do need a closer look at public transport in the area, we know there are frail patients who will not be able to use it and we need to consider our options.”
Consultation on the proposed closure is set to end on Friday, August 23.