New doctors being sought for Toftwood practice

Toftwood Medical Practice on Chapel Road, near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Toftwood Medical Practice on Chapel Road, near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A new team of doctors is expected to be caring for patients at Toftwood Medical Centre from next month after Elmham Surgery was given notice on its contract by NHS England, little more than a year after it formed a partnership with the surgery.

With the issue of GP recruitment being cited in its decision NHS England announced that it was currently in negotiations to find an interim, or caretaker, provider to manage the practice and deliver care to its patients until a more permanent solution was found.

Andrea Patman, head of commissioning for NHS England in the east, said: 'We are aware of the recruitment issues faced by the Toftwood Medical Centre which has led to notice being given on the contract for GP services at Toftwood.

'Patients should continue to use the service as normal and when interim providers are confirmed we will be updating both stakeholders and patients at the earliest opportunity.'

The partners of Elmham Surgery formed a new partnership with the Walker-Gregory practice in Toftwood in October 2014. It also manages the provision of care at Swanton Morley surgery and the team of doctors served all three.

But with serious recruitment issues being faced both locally, and right across Norfolk, Elmham Surgery's practice manager Judith Wood said action had to be taken to ensure care was not spread too thinly.

'The contract remains with Elmham Surgery until January 2016,' she said. 'Patients will still be served by the existing staff and locum doctors who have been looking after them for some time. They should not notice a difference to the service they receive.'

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Dr Ian Jennings has recently announced that he is leaving the Elmham group in the New Year to join a team that is setting up a primary care service in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

'Currently this does not exist,' he said. 'I am excited by the challenges this will pose and am looking forward to the challenges I will face.

'It has been a privilege to have worked with such professional and dedicated people.'

Mrs Wood said Elmham and Swanton Morley surgeries were redesigning the service they provide to help ensure patients were seen promptly and were assessed and treated according to their need.

She said: 'This may mean patients are seen by a skilled prescribing nurse practitioner or another clinician, such as a pharmacist, rather than a doctor.

'The GPs will focus on caring for patients with complex needs, palliative care patients at the end of their life and complex mental health patients. We are also recruiting other staff including physiotherapists and mental health nurses to support the doctors.

'We are doing all we can to provide a sustainable primary care service, despite facing very difficult circumstances in Dereham and the local area.'

* What are your thoughts on the GP service at Toftwood Medical Centre? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.