Health boss demands urgent action at crisis-hit surgery

FIGHTING FOR HEALTH -- Coun Jim Aspinall, who says GP services in Kirkby are "not good enough".
FIGHTING FOR HEALTH -- Coun Jim Aspinall, who says GP services in Kirkby are "not good enough".

The new health chief at Ashfield District Council has demanded urgent action to cure the unwell patient that is GP services in Kirkby.

Coun Jim Aspinall (Lab) says he is alarmed by the crisis that has enveloped the Kirkby Primary Care Centre surgery, where a shortage of doctors has led to the termination of a contract with its main health provider.

Now he has written to the boss of the Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the running of the Portland Street surgery, where more than 5,600 patients are registered.

“The GP services we have in Ashfield are not the best,” said Coun Aspinall, who has been appointed portfolio holder for health and wellbeing in Ashfield Council’s new Cabinet. “But the ending of this contract was a hammer-blow.

“There have been problems for some time at Kirkby Primary Care Centre. Now they have come to a head and the CCG needs to sort it out very quickly.”

Those problems included long delays for patients wanting to make appointments, a shortage of GP cover and “management issues”.

The CCG says it plans to provide an interim service, managed by local GPs, until a new health provider is found. But Coun Aspinall says: “We can’t afford to wait 12 months until they install full-time doctors. Ashfield is one of the most deprived areas in terms of health provision in the country.

“The level of GP provision falls well short of national standards. If they have such difficulty attracting GPs to Ashfield, maybe they should think outside the box and incentivise them. At the moment, the whole thing is a mess. It is not good enough.”

The CCG has promised no disruption at Kirkby Primary Care Centre while its temporary measures are in place. But Coun Aspinall fears a knock-on effect at the Primary Care 24 walk-in centre at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton, which is run by the same health provider as the crisis-hit surgery.

King’s Mill has refused to comment because the CCG is responsible for the centre, so Coun Aspinall’s letter to CCG chief, Dr Amanda Sullivan, asks for full details of the interim arrangements and of “how care received by patients will be monitored”.