Patients push for new practice

Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol has been campagining for the continuation of service at a GP surgery in Newtown.
Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol has been campagining for the continuation of service at a GP surgery in Newtown.

Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol has vowed to carry on the battle to replace the Eildon medical practice in Newtown with a new purpose-built building.

Mrs Thornton-Nicol has been campaigning for the continuation of the service since January, when the current practice partners advised NHS Borders of their intention ot withdraw from the premises.

Several members of the community attended a meeting last Wednesday , as part of the ongoing option appraisal process.

Dr Cliff Sharp, medical director at NHS Borders, thanked those who participated.

He said: “Over the past six weeks we have received hundreds of comments from patients and other interested parties relating to how GP services are provided to Eildon Practice patients.

“There were 43 participants in the meeting, the majority of whom were members of the public, including practice patients, councillors and representatives from community councils.

“In addition there was representation from Eildon Practice staff, and colleagues who provide services from the surgery including district nurses and allied health professionals.

“Participants were reminded that this was just the first half of the option appraisal, with the second half comprising of a financial appraisal carried out by NHS Borders’ finance team. The scores will then be combined to arrive at a final ranking.”

Mrs Thornton-Nicol was also at the event, and was pleased to be able to represent her own views as a practice patient, as well as the views of her constituents.

She said that the meeting was “a positive event”, adding: “Consensus was the order of the day, and being asked a clear set of questions to score against meant everyone was focused on the future of the service that means so much to so many patients.”

Dr Sharp said: “The outcome of the option appraisal will be a recommended preferred option which I will present to the NHS Borders Clinical Executive Strategy Group at the meeting scheduled for October 11.

“I will issue a further update after that meeting and can assure people that the process will continue with full engagement with the public”

While 217 responses from the public have been received by the NHS, Mrs Thornton Nicol said she was working with the Newtown Community Council to edge that number higher before the next stage.

She told us: “Not everybody will reply to a letter, but we are looking at drafting a letter which will be kept in local shops, and which people can sign there and then.

“It was clear at the meeting that most people, certainly those at my table, were on the same page, in that the best, most practical option is to build a new surgery in Newtown, which could be future-proofed for the next 20-30 years, with the current practice staying open until the new one is built.

“I think that having managed to build new practices in Jedburgh, Galashiels and Lauder in recent years, they can manage to do the same in Newtown, with all the services in one place, such as a physio, speech therapist and breast screening.

“They just need to plan for it.”

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