Orchard Surgery PPG meeting questions

1 – Can you confirm that there is absolute certainty that the surgery will not be needed beyond 31/3/20 ? Many PPG members have been concerned that there isn’t enough space or doctor capacity at Buntingford Medical Centre . Karnika did reassure the meeting that BMC have reported that they should be fully staffed by April 1st .

BMC have confirmed they do not need the Orchard Surgery premises and they are working on their staffing resource, and liaising with the CCG.

2 – Has there been any use ,mor application , of 106 monies by the CCG or BMC in Buntingford to invest in extending the facilities ? If not , is there an intention to take advantage of this source of capital ?

The CCG does seek Section 106 contributions from developers, but are not always successful in receiving funds.  Funds so received will be invested in the BMC premises or new premises covering Buntingford.

3 – The second letter is rather opaque about the process that follows the selection of the patients choice of surgery – When will the successful selection be announced ? And when are the likely dates of transfer of patients? Is there any way that a confirmation email can be sent on the receipt of patients choices being received by the CCG ?

The letter explains that patients will be contacted again in January with details of the Practice they will move to and the date they will move.  In the meantime patients should continue to access services at Orchard Surgery.

4 – There are other surgeries outside the CCG area who also cover parts of the Orchard surgery footprint e.g. Barley and Royston surgeries . We understand that it will be possible to register as a patient with those surgeries rather than be restricted to the choice offered by the CCG

This is correct. Patients can register with any Practice if they live within its boundaries. Practices publish their boundaries on their websites and patients can therefore check if there are other alternative Practices they could register with.  We have asked that patients use the online or paper form to tell us that they have registered with a different Practice.

5 – The next PPG meeting in on Tuesday 14/1/20 – we’d like to invite the recent CCG appointment, Paula, to attend and be able to answer any queries and hear any concerns .

We can check Paula’s diary, but I am also happy to attend on the 14th January.

6 – It would be most useful to be introduced to Paula and discuss some of the concerned directly with her. When will she be available to meet ?

Paula will contact you to make arrangements to meet with you.

7 – How much is the closure costing in communication costs, manager costs and any other costs ? Is the closure of Orchard surgery worth such a figure given ongoing cost of keeping the service on (and offering patient choice for Buntingford residents).

Full costs will be identified in due course.  Based on current estimates the cost is expected to be less than 3 months’ worth of the additional funds GHC had required to extend the contract and continue to deliver services.

8 – The population of Buntingford at 2018 is estimated to be 6800, the patients at orchard surgery are 2700 whilst at BMC is 7500 plus Buntingford are expecting  at least a further population growth of another 5000 – is there enough capacity to meet the demand of this population with only one surgery in Buntingford?

Patients registered at Orchard Surgery live in a wide area in and around Buntingford and for some patients there may be more than one alternative GP Surgery for them to consider. The CCG has provided information on the local practices boundaries within the patient letters. Discussions with local Practices have confirmed that there is capacity for all Orchard Surgery patients to be registered with local Practices. Expansion of premises in the local area is already planned and this will create additional capacity beyond that available now. The CCG is also aware of the planned housing developments in the Buntingford area together with the housing build out trajectories, which have been provided by East Herts Council. Options for further future expansion of existing or new premises are being explored and will be kept under review.

9 – We strongly support the initiative championed by Jeff Jones ( District Councillor) plus Sir Oliver Heald MP, to create an urgent care centre at Buntingford to add to the existing primary care facilities .


10 – We recommend a welcome pack , provided by the CCG/BMC , to all patients choosing BMC to make sure the full range of services are understood by Orchard transferees plus how the BMC system works. This should be made available as soon as possible

We have asked BMC to write to patients, as you have suggested,  ensuring they are aware of the services available and so that new patients can feel fully informed and welcomed.  BMC will not know who to write to until patients have expressed their preferences and been allocated a new Practice.

11 – Is there any CCG support for loyalty bonuses or incentives for the office staff of Orchard surgery for rewarding their loyalty in staying until the final day looking after Orchard patient interests ?

The staff are employed by GHC who have a contractual responsibility to provide the service until 31st March 2020.  GHC are having discussions with the CCG on support for the transition.

12 – We understand that about 650 email patients choices have been received and possibly there may be up to another 400 choices been received by the practice / CCG – what will happen to the non returners in January and what is the next step , plus timing , for those who have made their choice ?

On previous transfers undertaken elsewhere, experience shows that a number of patients will not make a preference. To mitigate the risk that this is because patients are unaware of the changes, the CCG and our partners have communicated with patients through a number of methods. GHC were asked to send out text reminders to patients and I understand they did this last week.  If there remain patients who have not expressed a preference, they will be allocated to a Practice within whose boundaries they live.

13 – Further to Justin’s letter I would like to add that Ashwell Surgery have said that although they may consider taking our patients, they are out of their catchment area. If they do take Buntingford residents, it will be on the proviso that they will not carry out any home visits and will be getting patients to sign a disclaimer to this effect.

Some patients registered with Orchard Surgery, who live outside Buntingford, do live within the boundary of the Ashwell Practice.  These patients could register with Ashwell and  receive the full range of services offered by that Practice.