PATIENTS at a Basingstoke GP practice have spoken out about their experiences there in light of a recent partnership with an American company.

CGH partnership, which runs the St Andrews Centre in South Ham, Gillies Health Centre in Brighton Hill, and Hackwood Partnership on Essex Road, entered a partnership with American-based healthcare company Operose Health from Friday, November 6.

A letter to patients, of which there are around 40,000 in the area, was published on its website, but many felt they should have been consulted and that better communication was needed.

The move was criticised by Cllr Paul Harvey, who said: “"I am saying stop, talk to people, engage with people. Don't just expect people to accept it.

"The weight of the opinion expressed to me suggests that there is concern that pre-dates Covid."

It led to councillors hosting a Zoom meeting for patients affected, at which concerns about the communication, among others, were raised.

Furthermore, documents later revealed that the controversial merger was undertaken because of staffing issues that could have led to "financial ruin."

One resident of Kelvin Hill, South Ham, moved herself and her brother to the St Andrews Practice, from Gillies, around two years ago due to “poor treatment.”

She said: “I moved us because I was in an awful situation with my brother. We had a lovely doctor there, but he left and it was a shame really.

“They had a big meeting, and categorically stated that they did not want to go into a management set-up, like a lot of the other doctors in Basingstoke.”

The patient cited waiting times, IT issues, and prescription delays as ongoing issues with the practice, as well as the fact that the previous merger of the three separate practices meant some specialists were based at only one site, leaving patients having to travel to see the relevant person.

“I know a lot of people are unhappy with the practice,” said the 70-year-old.

“Sometimes you would have to wait three weeks for an appointment, and every time you saw the doctor they poo-pood whatever you went there for.

“There are a lot of people who live here and it is a big practice. It just seems daft that they are pushing particular services off to different practices without taking into consideration where people live and that some might not have cars. There are people around here who are getting on a bit in age and it’s almost as if we are irrelevant. To split the services up all around town, it’s silly.

“I know we have Covid now, but if you go to the chemist to get a repeat prescription, they don’t have it. The chemist was moaning saying it happens with every prescription. I just think something is going wrong with the system.

“I think the thing is that the management has caused a mass leaving of doctors. They have done so much to upset the doctors that they have lost them and that to me smacks of political power struggles.

“You get given a doctor and then you can never find out where they are. If you have been allocated a doctor, you should be able to see that doctor. We need continuity.”

The patient said the first she heard of the partnership with Operose Health was in an article in the Gazette.

She said: “I spoke to two of my neighbours who are also at that practice and they didn’t know anything either.

“I think it is only common courtesy, when we pay their wages with our taxes. The whole practice smacks of incompetence. Lack of consideration in general.

“I was absolutely disgusted because we were promised that that was never going to happen.”

However, she admits that change may not be a totally unwelcome thing, given her experiences.

“The fact that people are leaving, it goes to show that something is wrong with the whole regime. Maybe it needs a good shake-up!” she said.

On hearing the news of the merger, many other patients took to social media to express their concerns.

One Facebook commenter wrote: “The whole thing has been a fiasco. The telephone system they put in when they merged them caused a lot of complaints, and now this stupid e-consult form, and a merger that went ahead without any consultation, with a company from the USA, where they put profit over health. I’m fuming.”

Another said: “We all knew this would happen… the government can’t wait to sell off the NHS! We must stop this!!”

A third wrote: “Absolutely disgraceful. No patient consultation, a real kick in the teeth for us. Next step needing health insurance to get treatment?”

But some agree that things can only go uphill for patients, with one writing: “It can’t get any worse. What do you have to do to actually see a doctor face to face.”

Another commenter added: “It’s a terrible surgery/practice. Surely it could only improve.”