PATIENTS at Lyme Regis Medical Centre have been assured there are no plans to discontinue services when Virgin Care’s current contract expires in January 2019.
All patients have been sent a letter to inform them of plans to ensure they can continue to access services ahead of upcoming changes to primary care in Lyme Regis.
Virgin Care, subjected to a great deal of criticism over their five-year term of running the medical centre, said reports that it did not plan to renew its contract to continue running services at the medical centre were incorrect.
A spokesperson for Virgin Care said: “It is incorrect to say that Virgin Care will not be renewing its contract to run the primary care services at the Lyme Regis Medical Centre.
“The Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has not given us the opportunity to bid to run the services when our contract ends. However, we have agreed a short contract extension to May 31 2019 to allow the CCG to progress its plans for the centre.
“Indeed we would be very happy to continue to run the practice especially in light of the recent Care Quality Commission report which gave us an overall rating of ‘good’ and also rated our services as ‘good’ across all five measures of safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.”
The CCG is developing plans for the future of the practice, ensuring primary care services will continue at the premises under new arrangements next year but no formal procurement process has been started yet.
Patients registered with the practice have received letters from the CCG with more information on its plans and details of an upcoming engagement event run by the CCG, where local people can ask any questions they may have. More events will take place as plans progress to ensure patients are kept up to date.
Staff at the practice are being supported by their current employer Virgin Care and the CCG and will be kept up to date with the plans as they develop.
Dr Blair Millar, locality chair and GP, said: “While the running of Lyme Regis Medical Centre will change next year there are currently no plans to discontinue services at the centre. With this in mind, we are advising patients that they do not need to register with another practice.
“This does not change the direction of plans being developed by all West Dorset practices to provide resilient primary care services within the area and to ensure continuity of care for Lyme residents.
“We are keen to manage a seamless transition for patients at the practice and to ensure the sustainability of primary care services throughout Lyme Regis and the rest of West Dorset.”
Community services based at the site which are also currently managed by Virgin Care will be put out to tender. Staff and patients will be kept informed of developments in this area as they happen.
If patients have any concerns or questions, they are encouraged to contact the primary care team at Dorset CCG at email@example.com or telephone 0333 241 2495.
Questions still to be answered
Chris Boothroyd, chairman of LymeForward’s Health and Wellbeing group, commented: “It’s a relief at last to know a bit more about the CCG’s plans. Patients at the medical centre have been told that the Virgin contract will end on May 31, so we now have a definite timescale.
“The past 18 months’ silence about the future of that contract have been worrying for residents, and the uncertainty must have been even more concerning for the dedicated staff working at the medical centre.
“But the CCG’s statement, beyond general reassurances, tells us nothing much about the practical details of how future primary care and community services will be organised: who will be in charge; what doctors, nurses and other clinical staff will be available to us and for how much of the time; where they’ll be based – these and other down-to-earth questions remain to be answered.
“There’s a lot of work ahead for all of us to continue making clear to the decision-makers what local people need and expect: capable GPs and nurses, in good supply, locally-known, locally committed, not here-today-and-gone-tomorrow, and easily accessible. It’s down to everyone to take a real interest and to make our voices heard.”