In June 2017 the patients at Riversdale Surgery in Wylam received a letter asking for their views on a proposal to close the surgery on Woodcroft Road in Wylam and relocate services to Oaklands Health Centre in Prudhoe.
This report provides feedback from public engagement events Healthwatch Northumberland held about the proposal on 20 and 24 February 2018 and from questionnaires distributed directly to households in the Wylam parish and in Horsley and on-line via the Healthwatch Northumberland website up to 30 April 2018. It also presents information about the current public transport links between the Wylam area and Front Street in Prudhoe
The feedback gathered by Healthwatch Northumberland shows respondents do not perceive benefits will result from the proposal to close the Riversdale Surgery at Woodcroft Road in Wylam and relocate services to the Oaklands Health Centre in Prudhoe.
Healthwatch Northumberland spoke to 62 people and 167 questionnaires were returned to Healthwatch Northumberland. 81% of respondents are currently registered with the practice and living in the NE41 postcode area. 93% said they were unhappy about the proposal.
The overwhelming concern expressed was how patients would maintain access to the services offered by the Riversdale Surgery. The services were valued and sympathy was expressed for the position of the current GP partners, but respondents expressed grave concerns about their ability to get to the Oaklands Health Centre, particularly using public transport. This issue was strongly expressed by the 66% of respondents aged over 65 who, while they are driving at the moment are very aware they may stop driving in the next 5-10 years.
Analysis of the public transport options confirms that journeys from Wylam, Heddon and Horsley to be protracted, with long waits and short windows for appointments at Oaklands Health Centre. There is also some doubt about the long term future of the only direct bus routes between the two sites.
Concern was also expressed about the extent to which other options had been explored for providing services in the Wylam area, the impact on the other GP practice in Wylam (White Medical Group), on-going communications about the progress of the changes and the transparency of the decision making process.