We are always mindful of getting out the right messages at the right time to patients and the public. Under normal circumstances, we work with practices to ensure patients are informed of any changes to their services in writing before making the information more widely available. However, in the case of Abbotsbury Road, which handed back its contract on 3 October, and will be closing at the end of March 2019, there was a very short time frame in which to do so.
Shortly after we received notice of the practice handing back its contract, the practice began to receive calls from concerned patients asking for more details. We were also aware of the possibility of misinformation circulating on social media, something we have seen in the past.
Aware that we were heading towards the weekend, we therefore felt it was important to get the correct information out to as many people as possible, with a contact that they could get in touch with if they had any queries or concerns. We therefore published a release on the Clinical Commissioning Group website, and shared it with the Dorset Echo and Wessex FM in the hopes of getting accurate information out to the public in a short space of time, and to try and avoid confusion. This release stated that patients should remain with the practice, and that they would be contacted in due course with more detailed information – which we are hoping to get out to patients in the next 7-10 days.
While this is certainly not our preferred method of contacting patients, we felt in this case it was the best available option for getting the correct information out as quickly as possible to try and limit the spread of rumour over the weekend. We apologise for any concern or distress this may have caused patients and the wider public, and would again encourage people to get in touch if they have any questions.
Moving forward, we would like to again advise patients at Abbotsbury Road Surgery to remain with the practice, and to assure all residents that the Weymouth and Portland locality are still working together to develop sustainable primary care services for the area. We will keep patients fully informed of these plans when they are ready to be shared.