Freshford Surgery Update

Background

A branch surgery has operated in Freshford for around 50 years and was located at Younghusband House. The main practice (Beckington Family Practice) is based in Beckington, 6 miles away.

About Freshford branch surgery

The branch surgery previously operated out of Younghusband House. The building is several hundred years old, accessible only by steep steps, has internal steps and a low doorway head hazard in the narrow corridor connecting the waiting room and the main consulting room.
Following a Care Quality Commission inspection in 2018 significant concerns were raised in relation to the health and safety of the building. The access, layout and internal limitations of the building cannot be physically improved and severely comprise the ability of the building to be used as a surgery in line with current regulations.
Approximately 1,000-1,200 registered patients use the branch surgery out of a total practice population of 10,500.

Temporary closure of the branch surgery

The Freshford branch surgery operated by Beckington Family Practice temporarily closed in March 2018 due to the limitations of the historic premises we occupied there.

The Practice applied to Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group to permanently close the old surgery premises. The Practice also submitted an application to operate from new premises in Freshford. On Monday 13 January 2020 the Somerset Primary Care Commissioning Committee approved the permanent closure of the former branch surgery site.

At their next meeting on Tuesday 10 March the Committee considered the application to open a branch surgery at new premises in Freshford. Following careful considered the Committee declined the application. The Committee noted the desire of the local community for a branch surgery, but on careful examination of multiple relevant factors such as patient impact, health inequalities, stability and viability of Beckington Family Practice, alignment with Somerset CCG Commissioning and Estates Strategy and the proposed premises terms and conditions it was concluded that the proposed branch would not be sustainable.

Permanent closure of the branch surgery

The Freshford branch surgery will therefore close permanently and the Practice will no longer operate a branch surgery at Freshford. Patients will continue to be seen at the main surgery site in Beckington, as they have been during the temporary closure period.
All patients affected by the closure of the branch surgery have been written to with information on the change.
Patients will therefore need to travel to the main surgery at Beckington (6 miles) or alternatively could register with Combe Down surgery (3.7 miles, BANES CCG) or Bradford-on-Avon (3.8 miles, Wiltshire CCG).

Practice comment

Senior Partner Dr John Beaven comments: It is with great sadness that we learned that our application for new branch surgery premises in Freshford has not been successful. We know that this longstanding and locally accessible service has been greatly appreciated by our patients over many decades and it has been my pleasure and privilege to have served there as a GP for over 20 years. We are truly sorry for the sake of our patients that the practice will no longer be able to offer its services from premises in the village of Freshford but want to assure local residents registered with us that we remain committed to providing them with high quality medical care from our surgery premises at Beckington and Fromefield.

We are very grateful to the Younghusband Trust for accommodating us over several decades and for the cooperation and determined efforts of the Freshford Village Hall Redevelopment committee in our joint effort to achieve new surgery premises in the village. We feel that we made the best case that we could for a new surgery, in challenging times for the NHS. We would also like to thank all of those who supported these efforts, especially those patients who wrote, emailed or spoke in support of a new branch surgery.