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Private company says GP surgery no longer ‘financially viable’

Patients slam firm's plans to slash surgery's patient doctor time in half

06 October, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Patients at the meeting in Soho on Monday 

“WE will fight again to save Soho surgery.”

That was the defiant message from patients and residents on Monday after it was confirmed that Soho Square General Practice is expected to lose one GP and its walk- in service as it is “not financially viable” and “not clinically safe”.

Tempers became frayed at the fiery meeting, attended by almost 100 people, as providers Living Care laid out their plans to the Patient Participation Group (PPG) and patients.

A wide range of Soho groups battled success- fully to save the surgery from closure in 2014.

Living Care’s mobilisation director Chris Garner confirmed patients will have to telephone a centre based in Hounslow, where the medical team will decide whether or not the patient needs an appointment. He also confirmed that the number of hours provided per week by a GP will drop from 72 to 36.

There are currently two well-respected doctors at the surgery, Dr Stephen Chee-Kin Cheung and Dr Louis Daniel Brassey. Under the new plans there will only be one full-time GP post, although there is a chance they could share the job. The changes are due to come into effect on December 1.

Mr Garner told the meeting the surgery had an “inherent weakness”, adding: “There are no economies of scale, there is a lack of resilience and the skill mix is not as it should be.”

The meeting was told the surgery is losing around £10,000 per month and that 75 per cent of the money is spent only on the two GPs.

“We cannot shoulder a loss constantly in this one surgery for much longer,” Mr Garner added. “These changes will mean more clinical time and more appropriate appointments.”

Living Care took over the contract to run the surgery in mid-2016. Soho councillor Paul Church has set up a petition to save both doctors.

He told the Westminster Extra: “In Soho, we fight for what we believe in. We saved the surgery when it was under threat and we need our community to come together again to save its two excellent local doctors.”

Mr Garner said after the meeting: “Consultation is a constant process and we do have further extensive plans to consult widely with our patients. The results will be fed back to the PPG and CCG [Clinical Commissioning Group] as well as to others when appropriate.”

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