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NHS bosses approve plan to move doctor's surgery three miles - despite opposition from MP, Rabbis, and 1,000 patients

PUBLISHED: 12:19 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:54 23 August 2019

Save Our Surgery campaigners outside Ravenscroft Medical Centre 166-168 Golders Green Road NW11, ahead of a patients meeting at the practice. Pictured left campaigner Stephen Colman and second right Emma Davis. Picture: Polly Hancock

Save Our Surgery campaigners outside Ravenscroft Medical Centre 166-168 Golders Green Road NW11, ahead of a patients meeting at the practice. Pictured left campaigner Stephen Colman and second right Emma Davis. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group has waved through the decision to relocate the Ravenscroft Medical Centre despite opposition from patients and the local MP - and even the threat of judicial review.

The Ravenscroft Medical Centre, 166-168 Golders Green Road NW11. Picture: Polly HancockThe Ravenscroft Medical Centre, 166-168 Golders Green Road NW11. Picture: Polly Hancock

At a meeting of the North Central London Primary Care in Common committee on Thursday afternoon, the delegates from Barnet CCG all backed the proposals, but non-voting members from watchdog Healtwatch and the Londonwide Local Medical Comittee (LMC) both expressed reservations.

Colette Wood, director of primary care transformation at Barnet CCG defended the move but admitted more would need to be done to inform patients of what she called the benefits of an integrated community care facilility in Finchley Memorial Hospital (FMH) where the practice is now set to move.

Dr Brian Golden, who was senior partner at the Ravenscroft practice for 29 years, also addressed the meeting and said that if the decision was passed, he would move forward with plans to apply for judicial review of the decision.

Dr Golden said: "No practice in London has ever been moved over three miles. Not one in England has ever been relocated two miles outside of the perimeter of its practice area."

He implored the committee to reject the proposal and said: "The alternative is to face a judicial review."

Presenting the report, she told the committee: "FMH is a flagship healthcare facility. It's a great opportunity to provide highly integrated services. It's an incredible facility and it's true to say it has not realised its potential."

Ms Wood explained the ability to combine community care with primary care and even hospital care at the new facility was one of it's biggest positives."

At this stage, she said, it was hoped the relocated practice would be up and running at FMH in January 2020.

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She also added that they would take a "compassionate" approach to making sure all patients who did not wish to move with the practice would not "fall through the gaps".

Dr Golden, who owns the building housing the Ravenscroft Medical Centre, also said he would not be working with the NHS in future - for example to house a replacement practice as was posited by Mike Freer MP - in protest at the decision.

Noelle Skivington from Healthwatch Enfield - at the meeting on behalf of Healthwatch for all five boroughs, said she had concerns about the CCG's attitude to the consultation - where 86pc of respondents (almost 1,000 people and around 13pc of the practice's patient list) opposed the move. She said; "I welcome the use of FMH and I also welcome the fact you are going to save money. I have questions about whether you have listened to what patients are telling you."

She said from her reading of the consultation responses, there "was an awful lot of work you will need to do in terms of modelling" as it was "clear" that many patients "are not going to go there".

She also questioned the efficacy of mooted ways of mitigating transport issues to FMH - which is more than three miles by road from FMH - she said suggestions of working with Transport for London would take time while a buggy service from the hospital to a bus stop would not solve the issues.

But Dr Arnold Fertig - who was an independent GP's representative voting in the process as all of the CCG's GP representatives had a conflict of interest - spoke of the positives he had found when his own surgery in Cambridgeshire was relocated to a facility similar to that proposed.

Greg Cairns, from the LMC, added that they had challenged the "expression of interest" process the CCG had operated. but Ms Wood rebutted this and said NHS England had given the process followed the all clear following an investigation which took place prior to the public consultation.

The practice's senior partner Dr Barry Subel and the CCG's chief operating officer Kay Matthews both welcomed the plans being rubber-stamped.

Dr Subel said it was "a fantastic opportunity". He added: "We intend to work hard to improve the health of our patients, reducing the number of visits patients need to make to the surgery and ensuring that when they do visit they can also benefit from all the other services available at FMH."

Ms Matthews added: "Ravenscroft Medical Centre and its partners intend to develop services that are at the forefront of local NHS improvements. Health prevention and co-ordinated care are essential if we are to tackle the growing burden on the NHS."

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