Parish Council Meeting Minutes Uploaded on May 23, 2023


PRESENT: Cllr R Bardo (in the Chair), M Garland, M Jones, P Weaver, J Print, C Blake, P Caton, and D Middlemiss. Also County Councillor T Hale, District Councillors J Fraser, T Forester and A Gardiner, representatives of the ICB and members of the public. The minutes were taken by the Clerk Mrs D Smith.

1. Introductions
The parish council and Helen Goodey (Director of Care and Place) and her colleagues introduced themselves.

2. Verbal Update
HG confirmed that no decision had yet been made regarding the future of Drybrook surgery. She explained that Mitcheldean surgery took on the responsibility for Drybrook in December under a 6 month contract with the intention of carrying through with the contract as a permanent solution. Unfortunately, the GP partners came to the decision to give notice to terminate the temporary contract from May. This was due to challenges over the winter period and operational difficulties in staffing two sites which was impacting patient care. There were also concerns over financial affordability. The decision to terminate the contract was not made lightly. This however led to a very short time frame for engagement and consultation. The ICB took immediate action to look at the options and a decision will be made at a commission committee meeting on Monday 21st April.

Question: Why were patients not informed that the contract was temporary?
When the contract was agreed with Mitcheldean back in November it was strongly believed that this would be made permanent but there was insufficient time to complete due diligence on all the processes required so a temporary contract was put in place initially.

Question: Why such a late update on the situation?
Update meetings were held mainly fortnightly but it was a busy winter with high demand on staff and also Christmas. The decision was only made three weeks ago so the timeframe has been tight.

Question: Why was the proper consultation process not followed
There is a statutory duty to consult with the public in these situations and there are different ways to do this. The process to engage with the public was started straightway and online engagement was the quickest method. The feedback from the public consultation has been extremely high and this will feed into the decision making.

Question: What viable options are being explored
The options are for a new provider, either on a long or short term basis, or closure. The option needs to be viable and sustainable.

Question: What does the ICB propose to do to support the Drybrook population if the surgery closes
No decision has yet been made but the ICB is committed to ensuring access to quality provision for all residents.

Question: Are the ICB aware of the covenant associated with the surgery
Yes but they don’t have all the details

HG emphasised that although there is a lack of GPs countrywide, Gloucestershire are well above the benchmark for GPs and offer incentives and support to increase this number further. The issue is with finding GP partners to run the practices under the established model.

All responses from the patient consultation will be used in the report for the committee meeting on Monday and the concerns have been noted. These include:
Transport to alternative surgeries, continuity of care, access to appointments and prescriptions, increased demand on other surgeries, the increasing aging population, environmental impacts.

Question: Why was this problem not predicted to avoid this rushed timeframe
There would normally be 6 months notice but it was not expected that the contract would not be continued as this was the intention back in November. The ICB responded as quickly as possible once the personal decision of the remaining GP at Drybrook was made to retire.

Question: Why wasn’t a financial feasibility carried out?
There was insufficient time to carry out the due diligence. The option of the contract with Mitcheldean was the best option at the time.

Question: Regarding the ownership of the building: were Mitcheldean looking at purchasing or a long term lease.
This wasn’t really relevant as practices often lease the properties and the rent is paid for by the ICB who do not get involved in ownership issues. This is a matter for the practice and its GP partners. This was not cited as a reason for the contract being terminated.

Comment: District councillors commented on the need to protect the infrastructure of the village and its services. It was noted that the MP had been invited and had not responded.

Question: What are the realistic chances of getting another provider in place before the deadline? Is the partnership model a failure
The ICB have already been in contact with local practices but cannot comment on anything at this stage. The partnership model is the established model.

Question: Could the Primary Care Network take over the practice
This is not a structure to run a practice. There is high level interest but no details can be given at this stage of the process.

Question: What about an alliance with the pharmacy
The pharmacy is an important, key partner to the surgery but cannot run a surgery.

Comment: The 111 triage system is not useful, there are already issues with getting through the reception to get appointments, there is little transport for residents to travel elsewhere for appointment times.

Response: The above comments have been noted and the issues are understood. All this will be fed into the meeting on Monday.

Comment: Closure should not be an option. Funding from other sources should be considered.
Response: All options have to be considered, including closure.

Question: who decided to spend so much on the Cinderford surgery and relocation
Response: this would have been a decision made by the GP partners

Question: What will happen to those who can’t travel to other locations
Response: As no decision has been made yet, no solution can yet be offered.

Question: How will the decision be communicated to the public; another meeting?
Response: Letters will be provided as soon as possible and another meeting can be arranged.

Comment: Drybrook surgery staff have already been told they could lose their jobs
Response: No decision has been made. The ICB are trying to work with staff to support them.

Question: What has happened with other surgeries in this situation
This has only happened once before in Gloucestershire. The ICB tries to keep in contact with practices to be are of their plans so that these situations can be avoided.

Question: Was the decision to give the contract to Mitcheldean fully risk assessed
It was the best option available at the time and as stated the intention from the partners was to make it permanent but unfortunately they felt unable to do this due to the reasons stated.

Question: Can parish council representatives or public attend the meeting on Monday
This is a committee meeting and is not open to the public.

Conclusion: HG emphasised that she understood the very real concerns of residents and thanked all those who provided feedback verbally and via the online consultation and reassured residents that all the feedback would be used in the decision making process on Monday and that they would be working hard to ensure patients have access to quality medical care.

HG and colleagues were thanked for their time and the meeting ended at 7.35pm

Signed___________________________________ Chair Date_______________________________