Fetcham's only GP surgery, the Molebridge Practice in Cannonside, has been taken over by a new partnership. It's a welcome move after months of uncertainty for hundreds of patients, when closure appeared to be a real possibility. The practice is now being led by Dr Hilary Floyd, who is being supported by an innovative partnership with Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust. The FRA's Ian Anderson has been to meet her.
Q: How did you come to take over Molebridge?
I was a partner at Derby Medical centre in Epsom for 27 years. My role as managing director of the local GP Federation brought me into contact with Molebridge and it became very evident that Molebridge was having a problem. The CCG approached me and asked if I was interested in taking it on? I said yes – I think we can turn the practice around.
Q: Tell us about the partnership with Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust?
The practice has been very run down and the funding for it has been very short - so it’s in debt which is always a problem. I was telling the Chief Executive of the Hospital Trust about the practice and we decided that it would be good to join together to deliver better quality services to the patients. It’s a different way of working and it’s been very successful in other parts of the country. The Trust provides the back office support – things like HR, and estates. They are already looking at improvements to our buildings. But I think the most exciting thing for me about it is that we can share services.
Q: Will this mean that you can access specialist nurses at the hospital for example?
Yes – that’s my aspiration. Getting that buy-in from the Trust shouldn’t be difficult because they see us as an extension of their services. I can ask : ‘Can we have one of your chest clinic nurses to come and up-skill our practice nurse and do some clinics?
Q: Does this mean that patients here will always be referred to Epsom and St Helier?
No - they will still have choice. If a patient wants to go somewhere else, we’re not going to deny them that.
Q: The previous contract holder said it was unviable to have premises in Fetcham and Leatherhead – do you disagree with that?
I think there is a need for both sites. I can’t say we’re going to have an all-singing and dancing service at both sites but we can definitely keep the service here in Fetcham. The practice has lost quite a lot of patients, because of the problems it’s been through. What we have to do is get a reputation for being a good practice, encourage people to come and register and that will help increase our funding.
Q: What would you say to former patients?
We would love to have them back obviously. I’m working towards having a stable workforce, regular GPs, regular nurses, who you build a relationship with which is so important. I’d say come and give us another go!
Q What about more services?
We will be having additional services but first we will improve the services that we’ve already got. The whole push at the moment is to have services closer to home, have services in the community and run them jointly with the hospital.
Q: How would you sum up your vision for GP services here?
My feeling is that Fetcham very much needs to have its own surgery and its own GPs. I think as a practice we can look at how we run the organisation, the processes we put in place, the people working for us, both non-clinical and clinical, to really improve the quality of care for patients.