A surgery in Leyland which could have been forced to close after the sudden death of its only GP is set to remain open.
Warm applause greeted the decision made by the Chorley and South Ribble clinical commissioning group (CCG) to find a new provider to take over the running of Station Surgery on Golden Hill Lane. Its founder, Dr. George Ahad, 75, passed away back in April, having run the practice for just over 30 years.
The alternative option under consideration was to shut the surgery and disperse its patients amongst other GPs in the vicinity.
Dozens of those patients attended a meeting of the CCG’s primary care commissioning committee to show their support for keeping the practice open. It has been operated on a temporary basis by the Preston-based Park View Surgery since Dr. Ahad’s death and that arrangement will now continue for the next seven months while a permanent replacement is secured.
The meeting heard that a survey had found that around 40 percent of people travel to Station Surgery on foot – and that “accessibility” was the main concern amongst patients should they be forced to move to another surgery.
The majority of the 2,800 patients on its books live within a one and a half mile radius of the practice. But committee lay member Ian Cherry said one and a half miles “might as well be 150 miles” if you are travelling on foot and have mobility problems”.
“Patients value continuity of care and that has already been disrupted by the sad death of Dr. Ahad, so I don’t think it would be fair to ask them to change surgeries on top of that,” he added.
However, the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the 101 Station Surgery patients living outside of the official practice boundaries would still have to register with GPs closer to home once a new provider is found. Some currently live as far afield as Freckleton and Samlesbury.
A procurement process will now begin to find a new provider and Park View Surgery has already indicated that it would be interested in applying.
Speaking after the meeting, practice manager Julie Fadden said: “The patients and GPs are just starting to get used to each other, so we would be quite happy to continue – but we understand that there is a procurement process which has to be gone through.”
Meanwhile, patients paid tribute to Dr. Ahad and the legacy which he has left behind.
“He wouldn’t retire – the surgery was his life’s work and I think he was one of the last traditional GPs,” Lois Dean said.
Another added that he would always enquire about a patient’s other family members during consultations – particularly if they had not had cause to visit him in a while.
Leslie Croft said he was glad that the campaign to save the surgery had been a success for the sake of Dr. Ahad – and his patients.
“We tried calling around other surgeries and sometimes it took 20 minutes even to get through – and weeks if you had wanted an appointment,” Mr. Croft said.
Cllr Ken Jones, in whose South Ribble ward Station Surgery sits, said that the decision was a victory for the “people power” of those who had signed a petition calling for it to stay open, while Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Ribble hailed a “common sense decision”.
Seema Kennedy, the Conservative MP for South Ribble said in a statement that she was “delighted” by the news.
“The uncertainty around the practice since the sad death of Dr Ahad has affected patients. The choice to keep the surgery open will give continuity of care and peace of mind to my constituents,” she said.
The meeting heard that the only saving to the CCG which would have been made by closing Station Surgery would have been on the £36,000 annual rental of the building – because all of the other variable costs associated with patients themselves would have continued.