Surgery closure plan angers patients

Forest Road Medical Centre
Nearly 2,500 patients currently using Forest Road Medical Centre could be forced to either re-register with a different doctor or go to Wood Street Health Centre more than one mile away

Report by James Cracknell

Patients have hit out at proposals to close their local GP practice.

The Forest Road branch of Waltham Forest Community and Family Health Services (WFCFHS) looks likely to shut later this year, with patients forced instead to attend doctor’s appointments more than one mile away at Wood Street Health Centre – recently rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission.

WFCFHS has nearly 10,000 patients on its books, with one quarter registered at Forest Road and three quarters at Wood Street. The branch at Forest Road Medical Centre is run by Dr Gabriel Ivbijaro, but the building also houses a separate practice run by Dr Dauod Shantir, which is not under threat of closure.

The wife of a terminally ill man, who did not wish to be named, said the potential closure and impact on its 2,300 patients had not been properly communicated. She told the Echo: “My husband has maybe one to two years to live. The surgery moving to the other side of Walthamstow is going to be very difficult as my husband is already finding it tough to get around with his lungs deteriorating.

“If we have to register with another surgery there is no guarantee that appointments will be available promptly. So many patients don’t have a clue that the surgery is closing and they won’t until it has shut its doors.”

Following an inspection earlier this year, CQC placed Wood Street Health Centre in ‘special measures’ after concluding that “the practice did not have effective systems for the appropriate and safe use of medicines” and “did not have effective policies and processes in relation to safeguarding”. While a follow-up inspection in April found that improvements had been made, services run by WFCFHS continue to be rated ‘inadequate’.

Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), responsible for delivering primary care services in the borough, has claimed patients of the Forest Road branch could benefit by being moved to Wood Street. A spokesperson said: “Following its recent CQC report, Dr Ivjibaro’s practice has been looking at ways to improve the service it provides to its patients.

“As a result, it is now proposing to close its branch surgery in Forest Road and operate only from its main site at Wood Street Health Centre. It is anticipated that patient care will improve as a result, with no reduction in the number of appointments available.

“The practice has consulted with patients and the feedback received will be carefully considered before a proposal is presented to the CCG’s primary care commissioning committee where a final decision will be taken in the autumn.

“If the proposal to close the branch surgery is approved, patients would have the option of attending the practice’s main site at Wood Street Health Centre or registering with another practice close to where the patient lives.

“Any patients who have particular concerns about access to Wood Street Health Centre should raise these with the practice.”