CONCERNS about understaffing and the use of temporary doctors at a Witney GPs surgery are to be raised by councillors next week.

Patients at Deer Park Medical Centre said earlier this year they were having to wait up to two weeks to see a doctor.

Before June the surgery had no manager running the practice, no lead clinical GP on-site and no practice nurse.

Virgin Care Limited, which runs the surgery, was filling the vacancies with locum (temporary) doctors.

But the operator has now filled the vacancies and says it is planning to expand the service and opening hours of the surgery.

However, West Oxfordshire District Council will call Virgin representatives to a meeting next week to discuss the issues.

Brenda Churchill, who is a patients’ forum member at the surgery, said: “It has been very bad.

“We were getting complaints from patients who were having to wait a fortnight to get to see a doctor or travel to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

“The surgery has lost a lot of patients because we were not getting the same service that they are getting in other practices in the town.

“The changes are a step in the right direction, but we have been pushing for this for a long time.”

Mark Booty, district council cabinet member for health, wrote to NHS Oxfordshire, the primary care trust, in March following concerns raised at a forum meeting.

He said: “It did not feel right that so many locums were being used and there was such a lack of consistency when people saw doctors.

“But if the level of service has now improved to that level we have done our job.”

Virgin Care Limited spokesman Russell Elliott said concerns at the surgery had now been rectified and new staff were in place.

He said a new full-time practice manager started this month and an on-site clinical lead GP and practice nurse started full time work in June.

There is currently one locum GP employed at the surgery – on maternity cover – and a replacement will be employed in August, Mr Elliott said.

He added: “Patient safety is our priority and we take any concerns raised about the quality of care that we provide seriously.

“I would like to reassure patients that at all times the clinical quality of our services is of the highest quality and we are very proud that the PCT has scored us above average in this regard.

“We are currently looking at ways of further improving our service by introducing Saturday appointments as well as minor surgery sessions.”

Mr Elliott denied patients had to wait two weeks to see a doctor and said the maximum wait time was three days.

Virgin Care Limited took over Deer Park Medical Centre, which has about 4,300 patients, two years ago.

NHS Oxfordshire spokesman Emily MacDonald said: “The PCT primary care contracting team continues to work with the contract holder.

“Regular meetings are held to ensure that progress is being made with the issues that have been raised by local councillors.”

The district council’s economic and social overview and scrutiny committee will meet at the council’s Woodgreen offices at 6.30pm on Thursday, July 12.