Staff pay tributes as GP surgery closes

Arun Medical Group surgery closes in East Street, Littlehampton. (Left to right) Wendy Pratt, Rachel Priest, Oliver Middleton, Chris Groves and Jill Adams
Arun Medical Group surgery closes in East Street, Littlehampton. (Left to right) Wendy Pratt, Rachel Priest, Oliver Middleton, Chris Groves and Jill Adams

Partners of Arun Medical Group paid tribute to their ‘tireless staff’ as the surgery closed this week.

Sister Rachel Priest, Dr Jill Adams and Dr Oliver Middleton, from the surgery on East Street, Littlehampton, said: “It was with the deepest regret, sadness and frustration that we had to give notice to NHS England and Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group and close the surgery on October 31 2016.

“We are not retiring but like all our staff, whom we have had to make redundant, we have found new jobs within the NHS.”

Despite trying ‘very hard to keep the surgery open’, the partners said the reason for the closure was that they were ‘unable to recruit enough doctors to continue providing a safe service’ to their patients, advertising for the last two years ‘without success’.

In their efforts to recruit, the partners said they changed their ‘clinical team skill mix’ to increase appointments and tried to improve their facilities by moving to a proposed site next to Morrisons in Wick. They also tried merging with other surgeries and approaching private healthcare providers.

Rachel Priest, Dr Adams and Dr Middleton also met with Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb. According to them, Mr Gibb said he could do nothing except write to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health. “We have heard no more from them,” they added.

The Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group made the decision to not find an immediate replacement for the Arun Medical Group surgery, but instead split the 7,000-plus patients among nearby surgeries. It does not have any provision to help resolve the lack of healthcare staff, the partners said.

In a statement, they paid tribute to their staff and apologised to patients.

It said: “We are so sorry it was not possible to continue offering you the excellent care we strived to provide and that there have been some difficulties in registering with new surgeries. We were assured that all our patients would have a new GP by the end of October and we would ask that you will be patient with your new surgery due to their increased work load.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly under extreme pressure, with humour, kindness, professionalism and have maintained high standards of care during this difficult time. We are very proud of them.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks for all the very thoughtful and kind messages, gifts and support of the partners and all the staff at Arun Medical Group during the past few months.

“We wish all our past patients and staff every possible health and happiness in the future.”

The Gazette contacted Mr Gibb but has not received a response.