Closure of Priory Avenue surgery brings up to 1,500 more patients into South Reading

Priory Avenue Surgery, in North and West Reading locality is to close on 30th June. It is run by One Medical Group and has been in special measures for some time. The majority of the patients will transfer to other surgeries in the North and West Reading locality, but some 1,500 live South of the river Thames and will transfer to GP practices in South Reading locality or to Western Elms surgery.

The practices in the South Reading locality which are likely to receive patients transferring from Priory Avenue are: the Reading Walk-In Centre, Chatham Street Surgery, London Street Surgery, Abbey Medical Centre, Russell Street Surgery, Eldon Road Surgery, Melrose Surgery, Pembroke Surgery, University Health Centre + Whitley Villa Surgery, Chancellor House + Tilehurst Village Surgeries. There must be concern that services could deteriorate at these practices if large numbers of new patients join without additional clinical resource being available.

The underlying reason for the closure is the shortage of GPs, whether because not enough are being trained, or because conditions and rewards here are not attractive enough. One Medical Group, based in Leeds, but providers of a Minor Injuries Unit in Bracknell, won a tender competition to provide services at Circuit Lane and Priory Avenue and started operating the practices in September 2016. The practice had previously had a GOOD rating from the CQC. Despite additional finance from the North and West Reading CCG the two practices never achieved stability and were never well regarded by their patients. Circuit Lane surgery has recently been taken over by the well-regarded Western Elms GP practice.

Some lessons from this episode might be that primary care is best managed with local knowledge, and that organisations tendering to provide medical services need to show convincingly that they can attract good staff in disciplines with shortages.

The Patient Participation Group at Priory Avenue has produced a comparison sheet for the practices which will be receiving transferred patients - it is available below.

Comparison Table of Surgeries open to Priory Avenue Patients South of the River (PDF)133.36 KB
Statement by the Patient Participation Group at Priory Avenue Surgery (PDF)51.02 KB