Medical Emergency

Screenshot 2024-04-29 at 16.19.51PPG Chair Terilla Barnard speaking at the Health Scrutiny Committee meeting

In the third of a series of articles charting the challenges facing Aldersbrook Medical Centre, Paul Wildish from the patient participation group explains some of the small campaign victories achieved so far

It’s already two weeks into April as I write this and the patients of Aldersbrook Medical Centre (AMC) still have no resolution to the question: who is going to run our doctor’s surgery after June?

Those who have been following our story here will know that AMC’s patient participation group (PPG) have been busy organising street protests, lobbies and meetings. We aimed to convince the managers of NE London Integrated Care Board (ICB) that the new contract they wanted to impose on us fell far short of our reasonable expectations of service and medical care.

The AMC PPG has been determined in its resistance to the ICB when it constructively forced out our current GP providers by offering a renewed contract with a 10% cut in the budget if they wanted to stay. For a practice already working on a break-even basis, this was impossible for our Richmond Road providers to be able to manage. They felt forced to give notice that they couldn’t continue under those conditions. Since then, the ICB has tried to spin a tale that the providers had decided to hand in their notice out of the blue and that they wanted to give patients ‘security’ by making our surgery a ‘branch’. This would make AMC an add-on to any interested local GP practice that wanted to bid to take us on but not necessarily guarantee us the same level of service.

Since we last reported in this publication, we have taken our case directly to ICB, sending delegates to question their plans and putting forward our alternative viewpoint at two ICB meetings. We were well supported by patients staging friendly protests at the foot of the ICB offices in Stratford. We were also able to put our case to Redbridge Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee. Our delegation was supported by AMC patients who filled the public gallery, demonstrating to the councillors our commitment to the cause. We were pleased to receive a good hearing from councillors on the committee. Following Sarah See’s response on behalf of the ICB, councillors Sheila Bain, Daniel Morgan-Thomas and Bob Chattaway asked probing questions, which drew out the inconsistencies of the ICB’s position. We came away much encouraged with the knowledge the issue would be followed up at a future council meeting.

While it feels it’s a hard slog to gain any traction, we have won some significant concessions, most importantly the ICB abandoning the idea that AMC should be a ‘branch’ of another practice. Instead, they have recognised it should be a second site, fully staffed and realistically funded. We have also persuaded the ICB to reopen negotiations with the Richmond Road providers, whose long-term continuation at AMC is the patients’ preferred solution.

For more information about the Aldersbrook Medical Centre patient participation group, visit wnstd.com/amc