HEALTH bosses held a drop-in session at Cardigan Guildhall yesterday (November 20) to reassure patients that they will still have access to GP services following the closure of the Ashleigh Surgery in town in the new year.

Hywel Dda health board is currently drawing up plans to accommodate the 4,000 patients who will need to be transferred when the surgery closes on February 28 next year, along with another 6,000 at Llandysul where the Teifi Surgery is also closing.

Nearly 200 people attended the session to discuss their concerns. A similar meeting previously held at Llandysul also attracted large interest.

Anne Swinfield, assistant head of general medical services, said: “The Ashleigh Surgery team is very well liked and respected in the area and we appreciate people’s concerns.

“Travel and transport has been a recurring theme, especially for those who may have mobility issues or have to use public transport. There is also the impact on neighbouring surgeries.

“We are talking to patients about being allocated to neighbouring practices and we don’t want people travelling further than they have to.

“There is a support package going into all practices getting additional patients to help manage that influx. That might include doing something about existing buildings as well as supplementing the workforce, including the likes of advanced nurse practitioners, paramedics and pharmacists.

“We are trying to give people confidence in what is going to happen and thinking about the long term.

“Establishing integrated teams under one roof at the new health centre is attractive to doctors and medical professionals and that model of working will help to promote recruitment.”

Jill Paterson, director of primary care, community and long-term care for Hywel Dda, added: “We are committed to strengthening our GP workforce in the Hywel Dda area and a great deal of work to retain and attract people to work here is already underway.

“This has resulted in several salaried GP appointments in our area very recently. At the same time we acknowledge there is a national challenge in recruiting GPs. We are tackling this fragility through our work to transform care in our area so there is a much greater focus and resource made into preventing ill health and expanding and integrating health and care in our communities.”

Cllr Elaine Evans, who represents Cardigan’s Rhydyfuwch ward on Ceredigion County Council, attended the session to gauge opinion.

She said: “People are worried. Hywel Dda needs to listen to the concerns of patients waiting for appointments. For many older people there are real concerns about losing that connection with their family doctor.

“People have to be assured they will have easy access to a family doctor.”