Lynton Health Centre: New provider from May 2024

Posted by: clarehartgen - Posted on:


Symphony Healthcare Services Ltd., who currently run Lynton Health Centre, confirmed in November that it is unable to continue with the GP contract from the end of April 2024 due to the ongoing challenges recruiting clinical staff to the area and being unable to secure a new provider to run the service.

As the commissioner for local GP services, NHS Devon actively pursued a suitable alternative to ensure GP provision remains available locally.

NHS Devon ICB is not in a position to manage a GP practice directly. The role of an ICB is to develop a plan for meeting the health needs of the population, managing the NHS budget and arranging (contracting) for the provision of health services in a geographical area. The ICB is therefore a commissioning organisation, and not a Provider of services.  There would also be a significant governance concern with regards to commissioning and providing a service directly. The ICB has no experience in directly providing GP services and requires a provider in Lynton to have the required knowledge and expertise to mobilise at short notice and ensure that the model is sustainable for the future.

NHS Devon invited GP practices from across the county to take over the running of the practice, with an invite to explore possible solutions to secure the long-term future of the practice.

NHS Devon also explored potential options for working with neighbouring practices in Somerset, and Royal Devon University Healthcare, but neither of these were successful.

The search was expanded nation-wide, with a notice published to seek any potential interest from the marketplace to provide services in Lynton. There was no interest from the publication.

NHS Devon supported and funded the patient participation group (PPG) in an online recruitment campaign for a new GP to run the service, however no GPs put in an expression of interest to run the service following the appeal.

Two local GP practices expressed an interest to run the practice as a branch site and during February 2024, NHS Devon ran a procurement exercise to appoint a new provider.

The new provider

Fuller & Forbes will run Lynton Health Centre as a branch site of their existing practice, Queens Medical centre in Barnstaple, from 1 May 2024.  Dr Mark Fuller and Methven Forbes have extensive experience of providing general practice services in other parts of the country, but more locally, they provide GP services in Barnstaple, and will also shortly be providing GP services in Plymouth.

How care will be provided

Queens Medical Centre in Barnstaple will be the main site and they will expand their current practice boundary to include Lynton and surrounding areas. They will provide general practice services at Lynton Health Centre as its’ branch site.

The branch site at Lynton will open three days per week. The specific days are yet to be confirmed and are subject to further discussion with the new provider.

There will be onsite clinical cover with a mix of GP, advanced nurse practitioners with specialist nursing, and health care assistant sessions.

Lynton patients will also be able to access all services available at Queens Medical Centre during their normal opening hours, and this will include online, telephone and face-to-face clinical services.

Other local services

There is a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Lynton, based at the same location as the Lynton GP service.  It is a nurse-led minor injuries service that can see and treat sprains and strains, bites and stings, minor burns, minor head injuries, cuts and grazes. The MIU is open Monday to Friday from 8.00am-6.00pm. Contact telephone number: 01598 752520.

There is a community pharmacy in Lynton based on Lee Road, open 8.00am-6.30pm (closed for lunch) Monday to Friday and 8.00am-12.00pm on Saturday.  They offer advice and treatment for a range of common conditions such as sore throat, infected bites, impetigo, shingles, sinusitis, ear infections and urinary tract infections, as well as contraception and vaccinations. The new GP provider will work with the local pharmacy to strengthen service delivery and increase the pharmacy offer.  They will also work with patients and the pharmacy to increase electronic repeat dispensing making prescription ordering more streamlined/easier for patients.

For housebound patients, the new GP provider will work closely with local community visiting teams. They will support upskilling community staff so that patients are not referred to the GP practice unless necessary. This has proved effective in another area the team has worked in.

The ICB have asked that patients do not contact Queens Medical Centre with questions until after 1st May. The staff at Lynton Health Centre have only the published information also so will be unable to answer any further questions at this stage.