Cllr Paul Millar, Exmouth, says “The Conservative County Council Cabinet have allowed a popular GP surgery in Newton Poppleford to close against the wishes of its many patients. The Labour Group supports calls from the surgery’s local County Councillor for an urgent review of this decision at the upcoming Health and Adult Scrutiny Committee on 20th January. More than 1,300 residents gave their views and 92 per cent said they wanted a surgery in the village, but there is no-one to run it. We have a workforce crisis caused by complacency and mismanagement by the Tory government. A Labour government, locally and nationally, would work with the NHS to solve this and improve GP and community hospital provision and capacity.”
The decision to close Newton Poppleford’s part-time GP surgery has been described as ‘counter-intuitive and short-sighted’ by the parish council chairman.
Village residents who are registered with the Coleridge Medical Centre in Ottery have been told this week that the branch surgery that used to open on two mornings a week is now permanently closed.
Patients living in Newton Poppleford can now register with the Sid Valley Practice, based at the Beacon Centre at Sidford, which is nearer than Ottery – but there is no obligation to transfer.
The chairman of Newton Poppleford Parish Council Chris Burhop said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the news and described the closure as a ‘retrograde step’.
He said “Whilst I support the opening up of Sidmouth Beacon surgery to residents of the parish – something I have long been campaigning for with both Coleridge Medical Centre and Sidmouth – it is not a panacea and does not make up for the huge loss of amenity in permanently closing the surgery service in the village.”
The Newton Poppleford branch surgery, which had just one consulting room, was ‘temporarily’ closed when Covid hit in March 2020, partly because of infection control concerns.
The Coleridge Medical Centre then carried out a survey of patients and stakeholders on proposals to close the village branch permanently and allow patients to register with Sid Valley Practice. There were 87 individual responses and 53 per cent said they would not be negatively affected by the change.
However, a much larger survey in 2019 had found overwhelming support for a surgery in Newton Poppleford. It was carried out by the parish council after the Coleridge Medical Centre pulled out of its plan to move into a new GP practice that was due to be built as part of the King Alfred Way housing development. More than 1,300 residents gave their views and 92 per cent said they wanted a surgery in the village, but with no-one to run it, the new premises were never built.
Speaking after this week’s news of the closure, the Otter Valley county councillor Jess Bailey said: “I am extremely disappointed that the decision has been taken to permanently close the branch surgery in Newton Poppleford.
“This is awful news for residents, especially for elderly and vulnerable residents and those with young children, who will now be forced to travel in order to access their GP services.