Once again, Madam Deputy Speaker, it is an honour to speak under your chairmanship; fate seems to keep bringing us together. I am delighted to have the opportunity to raise this important constituency matter in this House.
During my maiden speech, Madam Deputy Speaker, you may recall that I invited you to visit many wonderful parts of my constituency. Pilsley was one of the places I mentioned, and of course I extend that invitation once again. Pilsley is a delightful village—or perhaps two villages, depending on who you speak to—with great charm and character. But the village is currently in a state of great anxiety due to the proposal to close the incredibly popular local surgery. This potential loss is what I wish to discuss tonight.
The future of the Pilsley surgery has been something of an ongoing affair for nearly three years. The surgery is run by Staffa Health. It is one of four that it runs in the region, and they are generally considered to be very good. I wish to say early on that I do not doubt the commitment of the staff of Staffa Health to deliver the best possible service, nor do I doubt their sincerity in their belief that this closure is a good move. That is not to say that I agree with them.
As I understand it, an initial proposal was put forward in 2017 by Staffa Health to close three surgeries, but that got dropped along the way. I will recap some of the events over the past year. On
As you will appreciate, Madam Deputy Speaker, I was elected in the early hours—around 5 am—of
I think it would be helpful to set out the reasons given for this proposed closure. In the letter to patients dated
“Staffa Health provides a high degree of choice to our patients in terms of appointment type, location, time of day, day of the week and the ability to book ahead and on the day. Operating in this way over our four sites and providing effective GP cover is challenging. For some time the Practice has been experiencing increasing difficulty in sustaining clinical GP cover over four sites.”
On the face of it, this is about difficulties in recruiting and retaining GPs—a problem that many surgeries face.