Former GP feels 'desperately sorry' for Littlehampton surgeries faced with closure

A councillor and former GP has called on NHS bosses to help two Littlehampton surgeries which are being threatened with closure.

Dr James Walsh and the Fitzalan Medical Centre
Dr James Walsh and the Fitzalan Medical Centre

Fitzalan Medical Group, which looks after 16,500 patients at surgeries in Fitzalan Road, Littlehampton, and Clun Road, Wick, has been told by the Care Quality Commission(CQC) that if they do not improve in six months, they could be closed down after receiving another 'inadequate' rating while in special measures. Click here for the full story.Dr James Walsh, councillor for Littlehampton Town Council, Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council, said "I feel desperately sorry for the GPs and staff there who are doing their all to improve matters, but they clearly need more external help to help them to raise their standards.

"I will be asking as quickly as I can what the clinical commissioning group are doing to urgently improve the situation, otherwise the very real possibility is that we will have another huge surgery closing, which will virtually eradicate GP provision for almost 20,000 people in Littlehampton."

The Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, known as a CCG, is in charge of overseeing and commissioning healthcare in Littlehampton.

To them, Dr Walsh said: "They do need help, and they need it quickly. Six months isn't a very long time. They need it now, not down the line."

Scores of residents have expressed their concern on Facebook. Tiffany Miles said: "What a genius idea. Close it down and leave Littlehampton with one doctors surgery. Meanwhile keep building and creating new homes from other buildings and bring in even more people."

Taome Mills said: "It's crazy, already such a strain on our GPs as it is!! Where would their patients go when you struggle to get appointments. I'm all the way over at Willow Green since Arun closed and hubby is at Fitzalan. Something needs to be done; not enough support for GPs and lack of funding."

Linda Kiln-Barfoot said: "Instead of threatening to close it down why not find some solutions to help them get back on the right track. And surely 16,500 patients are far too many for one surgery to look after."

Katie Torode said: "I don’t think any more houses should be built until people have access to a GP! It’s beyond a joke!"

Penny Keen said: "This will just aggravate the situation in the area. Instead of closing them down help them to improve."

Speaking to the paper earlier this year, the Fitzalan leadership team criticised the CQC inspectors for an ‘aggressive’ attitude at an inspection in December which led to them being put in special measures. They said it left some staff members in tears. They also criticised inspectors for not giving them a chance to make changes before putting them in special measures.

They added that the patients they had inherited from the closure of Arun Medical Group's surgeries in 2016 and problems with hiring medical staff had contributed to their problems.

Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group has been approached for comment.