Residents given four options for future of Newtown St Boswells medical practice

Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol campaigned earlier this year to keep a GP practice in Newtown St Boswells.
Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol campaigned earlier this year to keep a GP practice in Newtown St Boswells.

The Eildon Medical Practice in Newtown is facing an uncertain future.

Its fate will be decided following what is described as an option appraisal process currently under way.

That follows the decision of the practice’s partners in January to withdraw from the premises as of the end of 2019.

Residents are now being written to, offering four option – that the existing practice will be purchased by NHS Borders and services will continue, a new GP practice building will be built elsewhere in the village, the building is sold and patients will have to travel to Melrose or a new building will be built for all patients in Melrose and Newtown.

At stake in all these outcomes is the future of the Melrose practice as well.

Explaining the next stage of the process, medical director Dr Cliff Sharp said: “An option appraisal is a standard tool we use in the decision making process for setting objectives, creating and reviewing options and analysing their relative costs and benefits.

“By following an option appraisal process we can give our stakeholders assurance that the strengths, weaknesses, risks and issues of a range of different options have been fully considered to identify a ‘preferred option’.

“During July we will be writing to all households who have patients registered with the Eildon practice to share this update with them, tell them where and how we will be giving future updates and give them the opportunity to be directly involved in the process.

“Until the conclusion of this process the planned redevelopment of the Melrose Health Centre building will remain on hold.”

Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol said: “I would prefer a service in Newtown St Boswells to be the priority for NHS Borders.

“We have over two thirds of the patient numbers of the combined service registered at the Eildon Medical Practice. The area covered is large and geographically spread and transport, for those who do not have access to a car, would become an even greater issue than it is currently and since NHS Borders does not fund any transport provision for access to GP services, this would be at the cost of the individual patient, which may be prohibitive to some.

“This creates an increased risk of people not attending their frontline heath service and conditions possibly going untreated, leading to unnecessary hospital admission or far more costly treatments being required.

“We have an outstanding Community Pharmacy in Newtown St Boswells, run by a very committed pharmacist and his team.

“While they are prepared to extend their services if it came to a crunch situation, I feel NHS Borders ought to be considering not only the existing patients of Eildon Medical Practice, but those who will be moving to the catchment area as house building continues apace.

“There is a need for the practice to remain sited within the village, especially if we take into account the drive towards preventative medical care and encouraging early attendance to prevent longer term illness.”

For further information, or to express your interest in being involved, call NHS Borders on 0800 731 4052, or email public.involvement@borders.scot.nhs.uk