PATIENTS vowed to save a Witney GP surgery faced with closure at a packed-out public meeting.

About 100 people gathered at Cogges Church Centre on Thursday after the doctors running Cogges surgery announced their intention to hand back the contract for providing services last month.

Several district and county councillors, some of whom are among the practice’s 7,700 patients, joined residents to share their views.

The practice could close in six months unless Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) can merge the surgery with another one or find a new provider.

Oxford Mail:

However Thursday’s meeting struck an upbeat tone as all in attendance, such as longstanding Cogges patient Owen Edwards, showed their commitment to the surgery.

Mr Edwards said: “When things get challenging in Cogges we tell people we aren’t happy about it.

“It was a useful knowledge-gaining exercise in learning how the system works, so we can think about challenging the possible closure.

“The provision of healthcare is a public requirement and we have to understand how we can take that on to benefit Witney as a whole.”

The decision to hand back the surgery’s contract comes as partners Dr Sandra Hallett and Dr Amisha Patel face increasing workloads.

Two partners have left Cogges in recent years, with the practice unable to recruit replacements.

Many surgeries across the country are facing similar problems as fewer GPs want to become partners due to the long tenure of partnerships.

Cogges & Newland Community Association set up Thursday’s meeting and invited speakers to talk about the problems facing primary care in West Oxfordshire.

Oxford Mail:

Dr Judith Wardle, who worked with the NHS for 30 years, explained that Cogges received money per patient, but nothing extra for staff.

She said: “You see on TV the crisis at the John Radcliffe but you don’t see the crisis here today.

“It’s not just here, it’s been going on for some time and we happen to be the latest.

“Something will happen because everyone wants to work together regardless of their political background.”

Labour district councillor for Witney East Rosa Bolger, who has been listening to Cogges patients’ views, said the problems showed a wider malaise.

She said: “We need to recognise that fixing this problem is only putting a finger in the dyke.

“Witney has too few resources for its population: too few GPs, too few teachers and teaching assistants, too few social workers, too few mental health services.

“Some people say we shouldn’t politicise this, but these are political decisions – they have been made by Conservative politicians nationally and supported by them locally and at Cogges we are feeling the consequence of those choices.

“Now is the time for us to plan solid solutions - to do this we must come together as a community and work at all levels of council while addressing the bigger systemic problems that this government has dealt us.”

Witney Town Council is hosting a second public meeting at 7pm tomorrow at Witney Corn Exchange.