THE under-threat branch GP surgery in Cwmfelinfach is set to remain open - for the time being.
A branch surgery closure panel which considered an application by Risca Surgery, which runs the branch in Cwmfelinfach, has ruled that primary care services should continue to be provided in the village.
And an Aneurin Bevan University Health Board spokesman said: “The health board’s executive team was supportive of the recommendation that the branch surgery should not close at this time, until the all options have been explored around sustainability of services within Risca Surgery.”
The latter has been asked to complete a sustainability assessment for further consideration by the closure panel, and “the health board will continue to work with the practice during this time.”
A timescale for the aforementioned assessment has not been indicated.
Islwyn AM Rhianon Passmore, who has been backing patients from the Cwmfelinfach and Ynysddu areas in their opposition to the closure application, had earlier told the Argus that she was “delighted to receive notification from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board that the branch surgery closure panel has recommended that primary care services should continue to be provided in Cwmfelinfach”, and that “the decision not to close the branch surgery was approved by the (health board’s) executive team”.
Had the closure application been granted, Cwmfelinfach and Ynysddu area patients would have had to travel to Risca Surgery for their primary care needs.
Risca Surgery has struggled to replace two outgoing doctors, with vacancies being left unfilled for more than 18 months, amidst staffing shortages across Wales.
Gareth Thomas, practice manager at Risca Surgery, told the Argus in October that it found itself “in an awful situation where it’s unsustainable for us to provide services in Cwmfelinfach”.
He said that focusing services at Risca would make the clinical team and GPs “better utilised and more efficient”.
But 477 people signed a petition demanding that the branch surgery remain open, citing in particular fears that many patients, especially the elderly, would find it difficult to get to Risca, with a lack of public transport a key problem.
Ms Passmore - backed by Caerphilly county borough ward councillors, also wrote a letter of objection to the health board over the closure proposal.
The health board’s decision follows a period of consultation on the closure, during which more than 150 people attended a public meeting on the issue.
“In the 70th anniversary year of the birth of the National Health Service, Cwmfelinfach’s people have been given what they so deserve,” said Ms Passmore.