08th Jan 2023

North Harbour / Cosham Health Centre closure update (08/01/2023)

Penny Mordaunt has held a further meeting with local Health Commissioners and Healthwatch regarding the closure of Cosham Health Centre. This is an update note following that meeting.

Following Penny’s requests that Commissioners explore running on a service at Cosham and look at other buildings which could be used the Integrated Care Board (ICB) reported back on the work they have done since our previous meeting on this matter.

Commissioners had not been able to find any alternative premises. Penny raised the option of some particular sites in Paulsgrove, which they have agreed to look at. It was also noted that the Drayton practice, who are one of the practices expected to take the bulk of North Harbour patients, have a site at Wooton Street, Cosham and expanding provision there would be sensible.

Commissioners had not been able to establish what would be happening to services that Solent Trust ran out of the site. Penny asked for a meeting with Commissioners and Solent before any further public engagement.

Public engagement from the ICB is currently due to start the week commencing 23rdJanuary.

We also discussed some of the concerns patients had already raised themselves, such as when and how they needed to make changes to online pharmacy services, or apps they were using. Penny also raised whether patients would be able to know where the healthcare professionals that had been treating them for years were going to end up, in case people wanted to follow them to a new practice. The ICB agreed to create a FAQ document covering these and other issues to be shared with Penny and Healthwatch. It was agreed that this and other information should also be available at the North Harbour practice.

There was a detailed discussion around some of the concerns Penny and Healthwatch had raised regarding the ICBs transition plans. The ICB provided some reassurance regarding how this would be managed.

Penny had also asked for details of GP:Patient ratios. These were provided and were encouraging. Receiving practices were recruiting and in all cases the GP:Patient ratios were expected to improve, provided that recruitment is successful. Penny and Healthwatch will continue to monitor these ratios.

Patient support was also discussed, including the existing nursing teams and third sector organisations that could provide help and assistance to highly vulnerable patients.

Penny’s view:

In the medium term it has always been the plan to move services at North Harbour to a new purposed build health hub, know as Highclere. This link provides some detail on this. Portsmouth GP surgery could be on the move to ‘modern’ facility if plans are approved | The News

Had North Harbour been able to continue for a further year- 18 months, this transition would be have been happening then, and been straightforward. The ‘migration’ of patients from the North Harbour Group should be seen in this context.

Apart from patients who may wish to go to another surgery based elsewhere- such as a site in Paulsgrove or elsewhere in the city, most people will want as least disruption to their NHS experience as possible. That means striving for continuity of care including continuity of nursing teams etc, and, critically, a facility based on or next to the North Harbour site.

The building is in such a poor state, no practice wishes to operate out of it, however expanding the service offered at the Wooton street site is a possibility. The ICB agreed to have further discussions with Drayton practice regarding this. Penny is also asking for the use of high-quality temporary buildings to be explored by both the ICB and Solent, which could be put in the carpark. These could provide extra consultation space as well as enabling services such as podiatry to continue on that site until the new Highclere build is complete. That would provide an 18 month stop gap solution for patients until Highclere opens.

In order t help the ICB be successful in these discussions and to give this option the best chance of success Penny will ask the Secretary of State for DHSC to help get NHS England to confirm the funding for the capital build now. This should give the expected managing practice of the new site confidence, but most critically let patients know that when they are choosing an NHS GP practice what will happen in two years time.

Penny said, “Patients want zero disruption and good continuity of care. The new Highclere facility will be great but I don’t want people to have to have to change GP practices twice in as many years. Let’s make this stress free and put patient wellbeing first. Let’s get the assurance we need from NHS England regarding Highclere and give patients certainty about the future of their care from now on. If we do then for many people they could continue to be treated on the North Harbour site, potentially by the same nursing team, and could stay with the practice they register with practice when it moves into the Highclere facility a couple of streets away.”

Penny, Healthwatch, the Portsmouth primary care alliance, local Councillors, the ICB and Solent Trust will meet again in the coming weeks.