A parish council has accused a health provider in Derbyshire of an 'apparent lack of transparency' during a consultation to close a GP surgery.
The Staffa Health Care GP practice is proposing to close its Pilsley branch which serves around 2,800 patients due to ‘challenging’ staffing difficulties and ‘workload pressures’.
But members of Tilsey Parish Council which has campaigned alongside residents to stop the closure said they were 'shocked ' to discover Staffa Health had originally wanted to close all three of their branch surgeries in Pilsley, Stonebroom and Holmewood with the intention of concentrating all their services at the Tibshelf site.
Staffa Health say the proposals to close all three were ideas at an early stage of discussion and it became apparent they were not a practical option to explore further.
In a joint statement Pilsley Parish Council said: " Members of the Parish Council together with Kevin Gillott, our County Councillor, have made strong representations against the proposed closure.
"When we eventually received copies of the paperwork which had been presented to the Clinical Commissioning Group we were shocked with what we read.
"The minutes of the Clinical Commissioning Group Committee indicate that Staffa Health presented proposal to them in December 2017 to close all three of their branch surgeries in Pilsley, Stonebroom and Holmewood with the intention of concentrating all their services at the Tibshelf site."
The statement adds: "Those minutes also state that the Patient Participation Group (PPG) of Staffa Health had been made aware of the proposal prior to December 2017.
"However, in our most recent discussions with the (now former) Secretary of this Group this did not appear to be the case and we now are aware that this apparent misrepresentation of the PPG’s involvement in the process has led to the resignation of both the Chair and Secretary of the PPG, resulting in there being no representative on this body from Pilsley.
"The parish council is disappointed in the lack of transparency in the actions of Staffa Health regarding this matter and remains confused on the rationale of Staffa Health for moving from a position in December 2017 of seeking to close three of their surgeries to a position in July 2019 of focusing only on Pilsley.
Dr Ruth Cooper, GP partner at Staffa Health, Tibshelf, said: “These minutes from a meeting two years ago highlight a very early stage of discussion around potential options being given initial consideration at the time.
“This snapshot of ideas being shared never went any further as it very quickly became apparent at this early stage that they were not a practical option to explore further.
“These discussions happened in 2017 after proposals were put forward by our landlord of the Tibshelf premises to possibly develop the site into a larger, updated surgery to bring extra services to the area.
“The rough outline proposal was shared with the CCG to see if it was worth considering more seriously but, despite approval in principle, partners promptly ruled this out as once we’d looked through all available options it became clear that the only practical thing to do was to for us to propose closing the Pilsley branch.
“We did not take this action lightly and we were thorough in our consultation. We made sure local patients had access to information explaining our reasoning and provided full opportunities for feedback.
“We discussed the Pilsley option with our PPG and had a face to face meeting with a representative of the parish council and kept our local MP updated and responded to any specific questions received.
“We value the contribution of all our PPG members very highly and are obviously really sad and disappointed by this and we’d like to thank Shirley and Deborah once again for their work with us.
“The door is always open for further conversations about this apparent misunderstanding and in the meantime we’ll continue to work closely with our PPG.”
Mike Tye, newly appointed PPG Chair added: “We were surprised and saddened by the recent changes in our group but we plan to carry on working closely with our practice to make sure we continue to be involved in its work and decision-making, providing a strong link and voice for local patients.
“Our GP practice has an excellent team of clinicians and professionals working hard to provide the best care for all patients on the register and we will support them in this in any way we can.”