In recent years I have been in regular contact with aggrieved Willesden and Dudden Hill patients registered with the Burnley GP Practice. This surgery was originally in Burnley Road but it closed in 2001 when the doctor left without warning. Patients were transferred to the Roundwood Practice at the Pound Lane Clinic with the promise of a return to a surgery in the Burnley Road area. Eventually the practice was relocated to Willesden Centre for Health and Care, but the inferred intention has always been to find appropriate premises suitable for local residents.
Recently there have been indications that there were plans to close this surgery and to distribute patients to other practices – few of which are within easy access for older or mobility impaired residents. There is genuine concern that one of the options being considered is to disperse the lists and a petition with over 150 names has been submitted.
Having settled into the surgery at the Willesden Centre, with patients familiar with its facilities, they find their GP practice is at risk yet again, in spite of assurances over the years to resolve concerns. Many residents will not understand why the practice is threatened with closure or what alternative arrangements are possible, but it is recognized that a “post code” lottery does exist in Brent, with the Willesden area (NW2, NW10) having fewer GP’s per 100,000 population than other areas of the borough.
As this is a community rather than a party political issue, I have sought the support of co-councillors for Willesden Green and Dudden Hill Wards, all of whom put their names to a letter of objection to the PCT Director. We also supported a meeting with PCT staff and about 40 patients. This was a good meeting where patients could express their concerns and could feel they were listened to. As a result, a further look at options for the Burnley Practice and further meetings are expected.