A NEW fully-staffed GP service will open in Minehead on Wednesday morning (January 24).

It will operate from the same Irnham Road premises as Minehead Medical Centre, which closed suddenly on Tuesday.

The Care Quality Commission said it would also ensure GPs were available to staff the minor injuries unit in Minehead Hospital from Wednesday morning.

The news came at the end of a frenetic day on Tuesday where local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger worked closely with NHS bosses to resolve the town’s GP crisis.

The crisis began when patients and staff of the town’s only GP surgery turned up on Tuesday morning to discover the practice was closing at lunchtime ‘until further notice’.

It followed a decision by health service regulator the Care Quality Commission to suspend practice provider Minehead Medical Ltd, a company set up in April, 2022, and run by Dr Ed Ford and practice manager Janet Hewlett.

A CQC spokesperson said the suspension had been agreed because ‘we believe if we did not, people using the service may be exposed to the risk of harm’.

However, the spokesperson said the suspension was to have been for three months and the CQC was working with partner organisations to ensure patients could continue to access the care they needed now and in future from an alternative provider with no break in service.

They said: “However, the provider made an independent decision to stop accepting appointments and referrals from Tuesday lunchtime onwards, until the new provider was due to take over from Wednesday morning.

“The provider has the right to appeal and further information will be published by CQC when we are able to do so.

“The findings from the inspection will be published in a report on CQC’s website once all of our usual quality processes have taken place.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “I am delighted we are getting this sorted quickly.

“We have all been working to make sure the people of Minehead and Alcombe have medical cover with a surgery that works.

“We have been doing everything we can to resolve this and I have been in discussions through the day and will be again tomorrow, working with the team, to ensure it is properly sorted.”

Somerset Cllr Mandy Chilcott, who represents Minehead, said she understood the new provider was experienced in taking over GP services in challenging conditions.

Cllr Chilcott said: “The important thing is that the people of Minehead can continue to access a GP service here in the town.”

NHS Somerset confirmed on Tuesday evening the new service would be provided by One Medical Group.

A spokesperson said: "Patients do not need to do anything and should continue to access services at the surgery in the usual way.

"We would like to thank staff at the practice for their continued focus on delivering care to their patients.

"If you have a pre-booked appointment at the practice needing to be re-arranged, you will be contacted.

"Please do not contact the practice to cancel or change appointments.

"All patients will be receiving further communication soon. NHS Somerset will provide regular updates on our website.

"If you have any questions, please do not contact the practice directly – this will enable them to focus on the smooth transition of your care.

One Medical Care Group is opening in Minehead Medical Centre on Wednesday.
One Medical Care Group is opening in Minehead Medical Centre on Wednesday. (One Medical Care Group)

"Instead, NHS Somerset has set up a dedicated helpline on 0300 303 6409 (open 8.30 am to 5 pm)."

NHS Somerset chief medical officer Bernie Marden said: “Our focus is ensuring that patients at Minehead Medical Centre have access to safe and effective GP services.

"We are pleased to announce a new provider has now been appointed and the practice will open as usual from Wednesday morning.

"We apologise for the concern caused for patients while we were in the process of confirming a new provider.

"Over the coming days, patients may notice new faces in the practice, and we would ask you to be kind and patient with the staff who are working hard to provide the care you need.

"We are working closely with both the new provider and Minehead Medical Centre to ensure a smooth transition and we hope patients will experience little change to the services they receive.”