At a meeting of NHS Borders Board, board members today supported the recommendation that the Coldingham Branch Surgery and Dispensing Service is no longer sufficiently resilient or sustainable to remain viable.
This follows notification from the Partners of Eyemouth Medical Practice in June 2021 that, despite significant efforts having been made to recruit to vacant posts and to diversify their workforce, they have not been successful in filling some of the key posts. This in turn has significantly impacted on their ability to continue operating from Coldingham.
A public consultation was undertaken from 3 July to 9 August 2021 with all 6500 patients registered to Eyemouth Medical Practice invited to feed back their comments and suggestions. This resulted in a total of 132 responses being received.
Commenting on the decision of the Board, Chief Executive of NHS Borders, Ralph Roberts said: “General Practice faces a very challenging time at present with a national shortage of GPs and particular difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff in remote and rural locations.
“The board considered in depth the information submitted in the paper discussed today, including the feedback from the community and stakeholders, and are satisfied that all avenues have been explored in relation to the future sustainability of the Coldingham Branch Surgery and the local Dispensing Service.
“Having considered the actions being taken to mitigate the situation and, in particular, having considered the potential impact on the overall sustainability of the whole of Eyemouth Medical Practice, the Board agreed to withdraw the dispensing service contract and endorse the closure of the Coldingham Branch Surgery.
“While I recognise the disappointment that this will cause for members of the Coldingham community I would like to thank them for their participation in the consultation process. I am assured by the Partners of Eyemouth Medical Practice and our Primary and Community Services management team that all steps will be taken to ensure that the transition is a smooth one, and where possible steps will be taken to address issues raised by members of the local community to minimise the impact. Details will be communicated to all Practice patients during week commencing 13 September 2021.”
“In addition, I have made a commitment to the Board that we will continue to work with the Eyemouth Practice and local communities to identify ways to mitigate any health inequalities impacts as far as possible.”
Dr Kirsty Robinson, GP Partner at Eyemouth Medical Practice said: “After careful consideration over a lengthy period of time we approached the NHS Borders Board in June this year following comprehensive discussions within our GP Partnership about the future resilience of the practice. It is regrettable that we were in that position, however the closure of the Coldingham branch premises and ceasing dispensing services, although disappointing for our patients, ensures that our Practice is more sustainable for the future and will help us to continue to provide the high quality person centred services to our patients that we pride ourselves on.
“The practice is grateful to the community for their contributions to the public consultation. We have greatly appreciated the assistance, advice and support we have received from the NHS Borders Primary and Community services team and look forward to continuing our work with the Board and members of the community to plan for the future.”