In response to my report on the meeting at Park Lodge Medical Centre about its planned closure later this year, a reader from Grange Park has asked me to publish a copy of a letter she wrote to one of the partners at Winchmore Hill Practice. The letter should provide reassurance for Park Lodge patients who are anxious about the impending move.
Frances Warboys has been registered with Winchmore Hill for more than thirty years. She wrote the letter because she understands that many Park Lodge patients will be uneasy at the thought of moving practice. She writes to reassure them, saying that she herself had been very anxious ahead of the relocation of the Winchmore Hill surgery a few years ago, but found that the transition was "seamless", as, she says, it should be for Park Lodge patients.
At the practice, she writes, "everyone is warmly welcoming, willing to listen, understanding and supportive. Consultations take place in a building which is modern, pleasantly light and airy and purpose built for healthcare." Staffing is "relatively stable because the professionalism demonstrated there has earned it teaching practice status".
Grange Park N21
6th July 2017 Dr C Sankaran Partner Winchmore Hill Practice
Dear Dr Sankaran
On Thursday 29th June I attended the “stakeholder” meeting at the Winchmore Hill practice. This meeting was called in the light of developments at the Park Lodge practice in Palmers Green which will undoubtedly have a significant impact not only on Park Lodge patients but also on those of Winchmore Hill. There was a frank and open discussion in which some concerns were expressed but in general the proposals outlined were supported, it being recognised that they were put forward with the interests of patients at their heart. I am aware that similar meetings have taken place at Park Lodge and, having read the recent article in the Palmers Green Community online newspaper, it seems that patients there also have concerns which need to be addressed. I am a patient at Winchmore Hill and thought it might be helpful to write from a patient’s perspective and perhaps allay some of their fears.
I am not a person who easily embraces change and had attended the Green Lanes practice at its former premises for some 30 years. The move to the new Winchmore Hill site a few short years ago unfortunately coincided with a time when not only was I being treated for stage four cancer but I was simultaneously having to find a care home for my 96-year-old mother who had just been diagnosed with dementia and for whom I was the main, indeed the only, carer. The thought of also having to get used to a change of location and possible changes of doctors and their staff was met with considerable dismay. I need not have worried. And nor should the patients, those that choose to, who transfer from Park Lodge to Winchmore Hill. I cannot fault the way in which the doctors, nurses or reception staff have treated me, whether my visits were routine or more urgently required. In my experience everyone is warmly welcoming, willing to listen, understanding and supportive. Consultations take place in a building which is modern, pleasantly light and airy and purpose built for healthcare, meeting all the attendant hygiene requirements of the CQC. Like a young hospital, in fact it offers certain additional hospital-based services, providing easier access for the local community. The transition, for me, was seamless and so it should be for Park Lodge patients who would be automatically transferred without the need for new registration.
If Park Lodge were to continue as a local practice there would apparently need to be significant improvements to the building to meet the exacting standards of the CQC. It would also apparently be temporary, requiring restoration for residential use in a relatively short space of time. Sadly, the straitened financial circumstances of the NHS make this unlikely and it seems hardly reasonable to expect such a transformation to be financed by the Winchmore Hill partners, who are already stretched between the two practices. It is obviously preferable for Park Lodge to remain within the NHS rather than being taken over by a private provider and patients will enjoy continuity in their dealings with the practice as doctors and staff will move across as well. Staffing at Winchmore Hill is relatively stable because the professionalism demonstrated there has earned it teaching practice status. The premises, with some slight adaptation, will cope with the additional numbers anticipated.
This is clearly an awkward situation and one that has been thrust upon us, all of us. However, it is clear that the partners and management of the Winchmore Hill practice have thought through the proposals carefully and thoroughly and I should like to applaud them, their fellow doctors, the nursing and administrative staff for their time and generosity in seeking to find the best possible solution for all concerned.
I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to share this letter as widely as you think appropriate.
Thanks for publishing this. I am currently registered at Park Lodge and was not keen on the idea of transferring to Winchmore Hill, preferring to find a surgery closer by. This information has made me think again.