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Agenda item

New Seaham Medical Group


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships that advised of patient and stakeholder engagement being undertaken by the New Seaham Medical Group regarding future service provision across the practice locality (for copy see file of minutes).


The Chairman introduced Mr Antony White, Business Manager and Dr Robin Armstrong from the new Seaham Medical Group and Blackhall and Peterlee Practice.


Mr White provided members with the rationale behind the proposed changes and initial feedback from the engagement activity. He advised that they were currently working on a plan with partners who were retiring to ensure the practice would be more sustainable for the future including looking at the ways the practice could be structured to ensure the practice was more attractive to recruit new GPs in the future.


Dr Armstrong added that the main focus was delivering efficient and effective patient care and explained the difficulties in splitting resources between two sites. It was noted that if the Eastlea site were to close, it would leave no service provision to the West of Seaham. He explained that the Seaham Primary Care site was underutilised and there was another large practice on the same site, with a further two practices close by.  The importance to rationalise the practice was highlighted in order to provide the best service for patients and economic consideration would be part of the decision making process.


Mr White informed members of the positive feedback received so far, with main issues of concern around transport, car parking and if the building itself was suitable. He advised that the building had recently undergone improvements to the waiting room area and there was provision to expand and create another six consulting rooms. They were exploring options regarding car parking and were currently in discussions with the community centre regarding shared parking arrangements and also enquiring about leasing or purchasing land next door for additional parking.


Responding to queries from Councillor Crathorne regarding distances from other practice and the number of patients from the Seaham practice that would be affected, Dr Armstrong replied that the distance between both buildings was approximately 1.5 miles. A large practice shares the Seaham Primary Care site with over 10,000 patients and another two practices were within quarter of a mile. It was estimated that 2,500 patients use the Seaham Primary Care practice regularly.


Councillor H Smith questioned if patients choose not to move to the Eastlea site and register with other practices in the area, would other practices have capacity for an influx of new patients. Dr Armstrong responded that there were no closed lists in the area and capacity was dependent on number of patients that withdraw from the Seaham practice. He added that since the notification of proposals, the surgery had lost in the region of 40 patients. After speaking with other practices in the area, he advised that there would be no difficulties for patients registering elsewhere, however, was unsure of the number of patients that may wish to transfer in the future.


In response to a query from Councillor H Smith regarding public transport links between the two sites, Dr Armstrong advised that the topic was discussed at a recent meeting with members of the public and there would be no difficulty as public transport runs via a circular route.


Councillor Crathorne commented that the practice would be affected financially if a significant amount of patients were to register elsewhere. Dr Armstrong responded that they had already factored in a maximum 10% loss of the practice list, which would not be an issue for the financial viability of the practice. Mr White added that once the Eastlea site was fully operational, it was anticipated that a number of patients would return.



That the information presented and contained in the report be noted.


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714