"It’s so nice to be back" was the message from patients attending clinics in Epsom town centre which were controversially axed last summer.
Miles Freeman, chief officer of Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group (SDCCG), decided not to renew the contract of the Epsom Downs Integrated Care Services (Edics) last August - forcing the organisation into administration and the closure at short notice of a number of its NHS clinics.
One of these was its recently redeveloped flagship clinic in the Ebbisham Centre, in Derby Square, Epsom.
But on Monday, January 20, patients returned to the Ebbisham Centre for clinics, run by a new provider Epsomedical Group, but with many of the same clinicians, including ex-Edics sister Anita Webb.
Following the closure of Edics, services were transferred from the Ebbisham Centre to the Epsom Day Surgery Unit at the Old Cottage Hospital, in Alexandra Road, Epsom, and Cobham Hospital.
With the exception of day case surgery and podiatry services, which make regular use of x-ray and will therefore continue to take place at the two hospitals, all the other services Edics used to run at the Ebbisham Centre are now back there.
This includes dermatology, non-cosmetic plastic surgery and hands and, additionally, urology, gynaecology, gastroenterology and colorectal services.
Keeley Dossi, outpatient manager for Epsomedical Group, said: "We have moved across everything that was feasible.
"We couldn’t provide the services at the Old Cottage Hospital as there wasn’t the capacity of rooms to use.
"We were very keen to move in here to get the best for the patients and for the services."
She said the transfer has taken time as the new clinics needed to be set up with the relevant IT systems and other changes in arrangements had to be resolved. She said there were no leasing issues in terms of the premises.
Miss Dossi added: "Before opening the clinics in the Ebbisham Centre, we ran a couple of dummy runs and the response from the patients was ‘it’s so nice to be back’.
"They were even more delighted that Anita is back with us."
Tim Taylor, director of Epsomedical Group, said: "When Edics closed there was widespread concern at the impact that this would have.
"Over recent months we have worked hard with the commissioning group to take over responsibility for specific clinics.
"I am delighted we have been able to reach an agreement that we can return these clinics to the Ebbisham Centre."
Mr Freeman said SDCCG is still locked in an adjudication process with Edics - which is believed to be seeking around £2.5m to pay creditors and people who provided services for it prior to its collapse.
He added: "As an NHS organisation we do have a duty to spend public money appropriately and we take this responsibility very seriously.
"We are disappointed at the length of time the adjudication process is taking and are pressing for resolution as quickly as possible."
On the return of clinics to the Ebbisham Centre, he said: "We know this has always been a popular location with patients and now that the leasing issues have been resolved, we are glad that the centre can once again be used for community clinics."
Mr Freeman said the CCG is monitoring closely the arrangements which were put in place with alternative providers following the demise of Edics.
Mr Freeman added: "As part of a wider review we are making sure that the specialist clinics we commission are providing high quality care, are aligned to local health priorities and are delivering good value for money.
"Once this review is complete we will be using the findings to deliver further improvements in patient care and ensure we have the right clinics and services in place for our patients’ longer term."
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