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Hightown residents and patients say S.O.S. (Save Our Surgery)

Hightown Village Working Group has stepped up the campaign to save the Hightown Village Surgery which is still very much at risk despite all the support from residents. You may have noticed an air balloon flying above the heart of Hightown which boldly says - SOS (Save Our Surgery).

The truth about this campaign is that it will have a massive effect on Formby residents also and we believe that Formby residents will wish to sign the petition when they realise that 2,000 more patients will be heading our way and significantly making it even more difficult to get appointments in the Formby area!

The surgery is currently being run by Ashurst Health Ltd who run the Village Surgery in Elbow Lane, Formby. This arrangement has been extended to 31st December 2017. There is a public consultation on the future of the surgery beyond this date. This started on 3rd April and will finish on 12th May 2017, and is called the "listening" phase. Patients and stakeholders have received an invite to attend one of three events on 10th, 18th or 24th April to hear about options for the surgery and to share their own views. If you value your surgery, please take action to make sure you keep it, and make sure you attend one of the above events.

The three events for Hightown Surgery take place in St. Stephen's Church Hall. There are multiple time slots for attendees to choose from as follows:

10th April: 1.30 - 3.30pm or 4- 6pm

18th April: 1- 3pm or 3.30 - 5.30pm or 6.30 - 8.30pm

24th April: 11.30am - 1.30pm or 2.30 - 4.30pm or 6.30 - 8.30pm

Lots of ways to book a place here: or email: or via freephone 0800 044 8169

A letter to residents and patients which is a further call to action and also highlight the first part of a consultation exercise being run by NHS England which starts this Monday in Hightown and this Tuesday in Freshfield. Patients are able to attend an event to speak to NHS commissioners, GPs and CCG staff to hear about the challenges these two surgeries are facing and the patients are also able to give their views and put forward their own questions. If you want to keep the Hightown Surgery, YOU MUST ACT NOW!

This is the letter that has gone out to all residents, It reads:

Dear residents,

Hopefully this will be the last communication asking for your support to save Hightown Village Surgery.

I would firstly like to thank all residents who have kindly supported the retention of Hightown Village Surgery campaign. NHS England are presently pursuing a vastly expensive information gathering/listening/consultation process with patients of Hightown Village Surgery, to establish patient opinions regarding Hightown Village Surgery. This may seem very strange to most people, considering that NHS England have, over the last few years, been inundated with telephone calls, letters and emails in favour of retaining Hightown Village Surgery.

NHS England have communicated that no decision has been made on the surgery's future but we would like to request that you continue to read the following salient facts and make your own decision whether you believe, as we do, that there is a preordained outcome to close Hightown Village Surgery. From the information we have been provided regarding the set up of the 'Listening Events', we believe that NHS England will try to convince residents that keeping Hightown Village Surgery open is not financially viable.

NHS England are understandably very uncomfortable revisiting the reasons why Hightown Village Surgery is presently under potential threat of closure. We believe that this is as a direct consequence of NHS England allowing SSP Health to incompetently manage the surgery and, just as importantly, for NHS England's refusal to intervene at various stages throughout the three-year term, despite majorly worrying issues that were brought to their attention.

During the forthcoming consultations, NHS England will try to imply there are many reasons why preserving Hightown Village Surgery is not a viable option. We have listed some important bullet points below, which should hopefully give you a broad overview of the situation and possibly correct some of the misconceptions that have been circulated:

1. The main point that NHS England will stress, is the decline in patient numbers has caused the surgery to now be too small to be viable. The patient list size at Hightown Village Surgery has declined since 2014, from approximately 2,400 patients to its present numbers of just under 2,000 patients. Initially, a decline of about 200 patients were as a direct consequence of SSP Health's poor management and then a further decline of approximately 200 patients can be attributed to the local Clinical Commissioning Group removing the St. Joseph's Hospice contract, when the surgery was put into special measures at the hands of SSP Health. If NHS England had awarded the contract to a contractor who would have run the surgery appropriately, patient numbers at the surgery would probably have been closer to 3000 by now and we would not be in such a situation.

2. It should also be taken into account that Hightown village has quite unusual demographics. Residents of Hightown, aged over 50+ years, make up 54.2% of the population, which is much higher than the rest of Sefton (42.3%) and significantly higher than the national average of 34.9%. Hightown's elderly population should be taken into consideration, particularly regarding the retention of it's surgery.

3. The local commissioning team confused Hightown village, that has a population of just over 2000 residents with a much larger location with 10,000 residents, quite possibly High Town in Luton. Mr Anthony Leo and his commissioning team then made some assumptions, based on their incorrect statistics and deduced that only a small percentage of Hightown village residents used Hightown Village Surgery. This fact was passed on to a Hightown resident direct from Mr Leo, who also happened to state that this was a significant reason as to why the surgery had not been put forward for reprocurement.

4. It is believed, that NHS England will also trying to convince residents, during the ‘Listening Events’, that the surgery is not financially viable, by confusing patients with various figures and financial information. Quite simply, the surgery costs NHS England approximately £55,500 per year. This can be broken down, £17,500 per year on rent and approximately £38,000 per year on maintenance (which encompasses everything from heating, lighting and insurance to service contracts sourced through NHS England). NHS England may highlight the cost of paying doctors to staff Hightown Surgery as being unaffordable, however this is irrelevant as this cost 'follows' the patient, whichever surgery they attend.

5. NHS England have recently commissioned an in-depth survey on the Hightown Village surgery premises by the District Valuer. The survey was carried out to assess the present facilities and to assess the location for potential for expansion. NHS England have recently spent a significant amount of tax-payers' money on upgrading the clinical facilities at the surgery. The landlord has confirmed that rental payments on the property will remain the same for the next 10 years, saving the NHS a very significant sum.

6. NHS England have recently commissioned a travel survey which will highlight private and public transport issues from our isolated village, particularly for the elderly population, that rely on public transport. The village has a minor bus service that runs to Crosby but has limitations with service times. Although, Hightown is directly located on the Northern Line, surgeries in neighbouring villages are located at least 0.4 miles from their respective railway stations. These issues mean travelling to proposed surgeries in Formby and Crosby, becomes virtually impossible, or at the very least expensive, for the elderly or those without access to a car and for those with mobility problems and poor health it means additional stress, worry, and practical challenges.

The use of Hightown Village Surgery as an "overflow" surgery is an idea that could really benefit Formby, Crosby and Hightown. Surgeries in both Formby and Crosby are presently running at capacity and given Sefton councils Local Plan, the situation will only deteriorate further. Around 1,000 additional houses are to be built across Crosby and Hightown in the next few years, and around 1,020 in Formby, only adding to existing pressures to get an appointment with a GP. Hightown Village Surgery benefits from the fact that it is located directly on the Northern Line, at Hightown railway station. Patients that live in close proximity to local stations could utilise the surgery due to its convenient railway links. The surgery also has it's own spacious car park and unlimited parking on the road outside.

NHS England have clarified that they have reached agreement on a five year lease for the Hightown Village Surgery and this lease is due to be signed imminently. Although, NHS England incorrectly believe that the lease arrangements for Hightown Village Surgery are entirely separate to ongoing discussions about the future of GP services in Hightown. In fact, the original lease quite clearly stipulates that the building is only to be used for providing GP services. The landlord is not willing to capitulate to their recent demands that new clauses be inserted into the original lease and therefore the building cannot be used for any alternative purpose.

We have set up an online petition, PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION:

and also a paper petition, which is available to sign in the pharmacy and the newsagents, in favour of retaining Hightown Village Surgery as a GP surgery. We would also kindly like to request that all residents contact the following people to confirm their thoughts and feelings regarding the necessity to retain Hightown Village Surgery.

Persons to contact:

Anthony Leo - Commissioning Director NHSE - - (tel: 011382 52885)

Bill Esterson MP - Sefton Central -

John Joseph Kelly - Councillor Manor Ward -

Hightown Pharmacy - - (to allow visibility of numbers of support letters)

Thank you for taking the time to read this document.

Hightown Village Working Group - 05.04.2017

NHS England – Cheshire and Merseyside have made this statement: “We have reached agreement on a five-year lease for Hightown Village Surgery and this is due to be signed imminently. However, we have never said that this indicates one way or the other the future of the practice and to say otherwise is misleading."

“The new lease arrangements for Hightown Village Surgery will ensure that we have premises for a GP practice for the immediate future and longer-term if required. We would like to be very clear that this is entirely separate from the ongoing discussions about the future of GP services in Hightown."

“We are continuing to explore all options and will shortly be launching a listening exercise so that we can understand the impact of any changes and hear patients’ own ideas about how GP services could be delivered in the future.”

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