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Patients told Soho Square General Practice is “not financially viable”

Patients to clash with private health company managers at meeting next week

29 September, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Councillor Paul Church

SOHO Square General Practice faces losing one of its two GPs and its walk-in service under “radical” plans put forward by health care providers.

Living Care Medical Services say the practice, which they took over in August 2016, is not financially viable in its present form – according to a letter from the Patients’ Participation Group (PPG).

The PPG is “strongly urging” patients to attend a meeting at the practice on Monday, 6.30pm, at the Soho Square Health Centre, to hear Living Care lay out its proposals, which are due to come into effect on December 1. The PPG were only made aware last week and were not consulted.

The practice was saved from closure in 2014 when a host of residents’ groups in the West End – including the Soho Society, Covent Garden Community Association, Westminster LGBT Forum and the Chinese Community Centre – campaigned to save it. It was at that time operated by the Central London Community Healthcare Trust.

The current proposals would leave 5,000 patients with just one GP. There are currently two experienced GPs, Stephen Chee-Kin Cheung and Louis Daniel Brassey, a part-time nurse, a practice manager, administrative support, and a receptionist.

The plans have raised fears that one of the two doctors, who both have great experience in working with the large local Chinese community and the LGBT community, could be under threat. Dr Cheung is a native Mandarin speaker and Dr Brassey has learnt some of the language to help patients who speak little English.

Soho councillor and lead member for LGBT Paul Church said: “We fought really hard to save the surgery the last time around. I think it is really important that the community are consulted on these changes. The two doctors are very well respected and have a really good understanding of the communities they serve.”

According to a letter sent by the PPG to patients, the plans will mean: patients will phone in, at any time of the day, and speak to a member of a triage team at a hub that will provide this service for all their London surgeries – it will not be possible to book an appointment any other way; the current system under which patients can arrive at the surgery each morning and will be seen by a doctor will cease and there will be just one doctor

and one or more Advanced Nurse Practitioner based at the surgery, supported by junior staff, instead of two.

A spokesman for Living Care said they did not want to comment in detail before the meet- ing the PPG. “We feel it is a duty of care to have those discussions first with them,” a spokesman said. “The PPG is elected to rep- resent patients and has been a very positive group during the first year of the contract.

“Living Care looks forward to a positive and supportive relationship with the PPG to grow the practice and create the conditions to make it stable and assure its longevity.”

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