Minister listens to Chippenham's surgery plans

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: From left, practice manager Jim Milner, Dr Nick Waters, MP Jeremy Hunt, Chippenham Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Michelle Donelan and Dr Robin Cordell                (DV1277) By Diane Vose From left, practice manager Jim Milner, Dr Nick Waters, MP Jeremy Hunt, Chippenham Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Michelle Donelan and Dr Robin Cordell (DV1277) By Diane Vose

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt met staff at Rowden Medical Partnership on Saturday to hear about their aim to offer a weekend urgent care centre along with Chippenham’s two other surgeries.

Rowden, Hathaway and Lodge surgeries put in a joint venture bid to the Government to work together in providing the centre from a base at the town’s community hospital, but they were not successful.

In September last year, Prime Minister David Cameron said he would like GP surgeries to open from 8am until 8pm and over the weekends, to fit the lifestyles of working people, and take pressure off A&E departments.

A £50m pilot scheme was rolled out across the country, but no surgeries in Wiltshire were chosen.

Chippenham community hospital has a walk-in minor injury unit (MIU) managed by Great Western Hospitals Foundation Trust, staffed by nurses and open 7am-1am every day.

But it cannot treat patients for infections and illnesses, so anybody needing this treatment outside doctors’ surgery hours has to go to hospital in Swindon or Bath.

Chippenham’s three doctors’ surgeries wanted to take turns staffing the MIU themselves.

Andy Briggs, managing partner at Hathaway Medical Centre, said: “We would like to say how disappointed we are that Chippenham was unsuccessful.”

Jim Milner, Rowden Medical Partnership’s practice manager, discussed the proposal with the Secretary of State for Health at the weekend. MP Jeremy Hunt was invited to Rowden by one of its patients, Michelle Donelan, the Conservatives’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Chippenham.

Mr Milner said: “I hope he went away with a better understanding of where we are coming from. A lot of expense would go along with opening at the weekend; we’d have to also bring in receptionists and nurses.

“But by doing it in a place that is already open, we could provide a good service with less unnecessary cost. It’s better value for the Treasury.”

Mr Hunt said: “It was great to speak with doctors at the Rowden Surgery about the good work they are doing locally.”

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