Colney Heath’s last doctor’s surgery forced to close after more than 30 years

Cllr Chris Brazier outside the Burvill House GP surgery in Colney heath which is to close.

Cllr Chris Brazier outside the Burvill House GP surgery in Colney heath which is to close. - Credit: Archant

A dwindling number of patients and a lack of privacy in “very basic premises” are forcing a village’s last doctor’s surgery to close its doors after more than 30 years.

But Burvill House Surgery’s imminent closure in Colney Heath has been lamented by district councillor Chris Brazier as being of “great concern” to the community, particularly older residents.

He warned the proposed closure of the village’s sole surgery would “disenfranchise a lot of people”.

Burvill House’s main practice is in Hatfield, and the service has applied to NHS England to close its Colney Heath branch at the end of November this year.

As part of the process patients have been warned of the proposal and their views have been sought on the change.

According to the surgery’s website, reasons for shutting the clinic include a decreasing number of registered patients.

It adds: “There are currently 570 Colney Heath residents who are registered out of a total list size of 9,834.

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“In the last 12 months only 196 of those residents have used the surgery, and of these, 21 people have used 35 per cent of the appointments.

“The practice now runs only one session per week in the branch.”

The premises are described as, “very basic and will not meet the requirements of the Care Quality Commission. They premises have a rating of 4 from NHS England, which is the second lowest rating. A rating of 5 would require closure.”

The surgery maintains its facilities have an “outdated internal layout” which, despite the use of background music, provides insufficient privacy for patients at the reception desk or within the single consulting room.

Burvill House added: “This is not in keeping with maintaining good standards in a modern general practice.”

However, Cllr Brazier said: “The closure will put patients at risk, especially the elderly. There is no bus going from Colney Heath to Hatfield, and a return taxi would cost at least £15.”

In a letter to the practice manager, Cllr Brazier said: “The elderly need constant care. If, as you state, the surgery is no longer fit for purpose, the NHS should invest in improving it instead of closing it. The NHS is committed to helping with medical aid to one person, not a minimum number.

“It gives me great concern. The surgery was started as a medical facility to the village along with the extending of Colney Heath JMI, but now in 2016 we are seeing dwindling facilities to villages: no buses, lack of school places and now the proposed loss of a vital medical facility.”

Cllr Brazier said it was a false economy as residents unable to reach Hatfield would be forced to call the ambulance service “when they feel ill, and use valuable A&E services that could be better used for people in urgent need – this is not cost effective”.

The surgery said it was failing to “provide a full range of services including all nurse procedures and many examinations”.

While “partners appreciated that the Colney Heath surgery has served a valuable purpose over many years, with the present constraints upon NHS resources, further investment in this branch would not be a good use of precious resources”.