GP demands permanent base

A GP is calling for his practice to be given a permanent home but fears health bosses are trying to end his contract.

Dr Paul Thomas set up the Gipping Valley Practice in a portable building in Barham in 1992 and has been trying to get a permanent base ever since. Public meetings have been held to discuss possible locations for the new surgery and the public’s favoured option is for a permanent base to be built at the present site in Kirby Rise. However, NHS Suffolk has failed to commit to any future plans.

Dr Thomas believes that behind the scenes, the Primary Care Trust (PCT) is trying to end his contract and close the surgery, forcing his 15,000 patients to travel to other medical centres in the area, such as Needham Market.

Dr Thomas was fined �10,000 by NHS Suffolk last year for dispensing drugs inappropriately from his surgery and breaching his contract after a computer server containing sensitive information was found dumped beside a skip. Dr Thomas said he believed technicians from the health service had wiped all the sensitive details of patients. “Being forced to practise from a portable building has limited what services I can provide,” he said. “The PCT is saying it wants to improve services but we are still no further forward.

“The great advantage about this site is it is already available. I want to see this site developed to provide services for the community which is why I started this practice in the first place. I started my practice in 1992 on the understanding that the PCT recognised the need for local service provision. Since then I’ve experienced nothing but obstruction. They have prevented the development of the service. They are going through the process of trying to terminate my contract.”

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Tony Morgan, of the Friends of Gipping Valley Practice, said: “We are fighting hard to get this building.”

Melanie Craig, deputy director of performance at NHS Suffolk, said: “All our doctors operate within a standard contract to ensure a consistent level of service for patients. Consequently, we have been in discussions with Dr Thomas about the way he has been operating his contract.

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“NHS Suffolk has consulted with members of the public through two public meetings in the Claydon area – this has resulted in much interest and feedback. Together we are looking at the best way to move forward.

“At the moment there are no such plans (to close the surgery). However, the number one priority for NHS Suffolk is to deliver the best possible level of healthcare to the people of Suffolk.”

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