The villagers of Byfield understood that they had to make a stand after they faced the threat of losing their local GP practice.
Around 400 people, which is almost a third of the village’s population, descended on a meeting where councilors were to have a meeting about the surgery’s predicament.
Officials Call Police
It directed officials to call in the cops to deal with scenes of “utter chaos.”
But people-power accomplished in winning a delay on a local authority planning decision that could end in the practice’s closure.
As well as the 1,300 occupants of the Northamptonshire village, Byfield Medical Centre also helps another 34 towns and hamlets, which includes some in neighboring Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. If the practice ends, residents face either a ten-mile journey to Banbury or eight miles in the opposing direction to Daventry in search of a GP.
Lost Two Of Its Four GP Partners
The surgery has dropped two of its four GP partners during its two-year battle to relocate. It has been incapable of recruiting replacements because of its ‘uncomfortable’ conditions and high patient numbers.
A local landowner has given the surgery a one-acre site with a contract that the land must be utilized for the development of medical practice, as well as the commitment of £1.25million towards the expense of the new building – to be funded by the proposed sale of neighboring land to a housing developer.
But planners at Tory-run Daventry District Council have suggested that the surgery’s plan application for the new site, and the associated 78-home housing development, be turned down. This is because of the concern over access arrangements to the new houses, and the possible impediment to views of open countryside.
However, the surgery suggests that without a new building to go to, the existing building will conclusively have to close because staff “cannot cope” with the number of patients and shortage of space.
A senior partner at the surgery, Dr. Rob Harvey, said that “If we can’t acquire a new building the center will close, indicating that all 8,300 patients will have to obtain GP services elsewhere.”
Practice manager Tracey Rymer added that “We manage to offer most of our appointments on the day so that those patients who are in most critical need can see a doctor.”
She stated that the surgery was part of a rural primary care network of five surgeries – including a new one at Brixworth – which was also built in connection with a new housing estate.
At Wednesday night’s local officials’ meeting, councilors delayed a decision on whether to follow their planners’ recommendation and reject the application.
It appears as GPs are leaving their practices in huge numbers, with morale stated that to be at an all-time low. Some 270 GP practices terminated in 2018/19, taking the number of surgeries to the lowest since records started in 1995. There has been a reduction of more than 1,000 GPs in England since 2015.
Byfield Parish Council has opposed the application on grounds including concerns over flooding, traffic impact, and the position of the site located outside village confines.