MP warns Palmers Green patients could be ‘isolated’ if doctor’s surgery remains closed

Bambos Charalambous has called for local NHS bosses to intervene to stop Grenoble Gardens Surgery from being closed permanently, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Grenbole Gardens Surgery and (inset) Bambos Charalambous MP
Grenoble Gardens Surgery and (inset) Bambos Charalambous MP

Vulnerable patients needing to access the NHS may become “isolated” if a Palmers Green doctor’s surgery is permanently closed, a local MP was warned.

Grenoble Gardens Surgery, in Grenoble Gardens, was closed last year – initially on a temporary basis – with an announcement on the practice website blaming “severe staff shortages” and “structural issues” with the building.

Patients were told to visit Grovelands Medical Centre, which is located around a mile away in Grovelands Road, for appointments. This year, plans were revealed to make the closure permanent.

Responding to a consultation on the proposed closure, Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous raised concerns that “the most vulnerable in our community may become isolated during a time of their greatest need to access the NHS”.

His letter states that one of the partners at the GP practice, Dr Patalay, had not been kept up-to-date about other partners contacting NHS England and North Central London Integrated Care Board (NCL ICB) to discuss closing the surgery.

Charalambous says Dr Patalay had not consented to the closure, was “unaware of staffing shortages”, and was only told about the structural issues “in recent months”, adding that a structural engineer’s report commissioned by the GP “confirmed the building was safe and works could be carried out to repair subsidence”.

The MP’s letter also states that an insurance company confirmed that damage to the building “is not considered to be dangerous” and the property “is not considered to be unfit for purpose”.

It adds that Dr Patalay “is dismayed to report that NHS England are not seeking clarity over structural issues put forward by other practice partners or considering the independent report she has shared”.

Bambos states that 3,391 patients in his Enfield Southgate constituency were waiting between eight and 14 days for an appointment in February this year, with 904 waiting longer than 28 days. He adds that patients had reported being unable to book an appointment at Grovelands Medical Centre “due to numbers registered to the surgery”.

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His letter continues: “Today, constituents still contact me regularly to explain the difficulties they face in accessing their GP effectively, without long delays and without a struggle to get that all-important appointment.”

Bambos raised these concerns with NCL ICB and NHS England twice in early May but had received no response at the time of writing his letter, which is dated 6th July.

In response to an enquiry by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, NCL ICB said it responded to the MP on 7th July and issued the following statement: “NCL ICB has received a practice request to close Grenoble Gardens Surgery – one of three sites from which services are provided to patients of Grovelands and Grenoble Medical Centre.

“This requires formal consideration by NCL ICB’s primary care contracting committee. As a commissioner of NHS services, our main priority is to ensure patients continue to access high quality and safe services.

“As part of the practice’s request to close Grenoble Gardens Surgery, the practice is required to engage its patients and share its findings. The ICB also carried out patient and stakeholder engagement over a six-week period from 24th May to 7th July 2023. As part of this engagement, patients and stakeholders were encouraged to share their views and a range of drop-in sessions were made available to patients and the practice’s patient participation group.

“Findings from engagement, alongside other information, will be presented at a future meeting of the ICB’s primary care contracting committee, where members will examine and consider the feedback and information before any decision on the site is taken.

“Any temporary or permanent changes to this site do not mean that patients need to find a new practice – they remain registered with Grovelands and Grenoble Medical Centre and can access services from any open branch.”

Grovelands Medical Centre and NHS England have been approached for comment.

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