Anger as NHS vasectomy clinic set to close
PUBLISHED: 07:30 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:44 16 September 2019
A Suffolk surgeon who runs a minor surgery unit in Ipswich is appalled at the news it will close.
The Ivry Street Medical Practice currently opens its doors to patients on Saturday mornings for a variety of minor surgical procedures including vasectomies - carrying out a reported 4% of the UK's mens' procedure every year.
Opened in 1996 by then trainee surgeon Dr Simon Marsh, the unit which employs eight paid staff is due to close in March.
A spokesman for the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group however says they are "actively working to identify a new service provider".
"It remains the CCG's intention to commission this same service in the future," the spokesman said.
"There may be an option for the service to continue to be available at the Ivry Street Practice under a new provider, however, the CCG is identifying alternative venues should this be required.
"The CCG and the Ivry Street Practice are committed to ensuring that there is no disruption to services for patients."
Dr Marsh said: "I have no idea what will happen to vasectomy patients.
"It is the most cost effective form of contraception, it takes me 10 minutes to complete the procedure.
"The real danger here is that it could cost the NHS more money in the long run."
Why is it set to close?
Having recently learned of the unit's planned closure, the 56-year-old said he has not been given a reason as to why, leading him to believe it is due to cost-cutting.
Dr Marsh added: "It is a huge shame, not only for us staff but more importantly, for the patients.
"GPs don't have the time to be able to perform the kind of surgeries we do here.
"You don't ever get the chance to design something yourself purely for the patient, everything we do here is for the patients.
"I haven't had a pay rise since we opened but that doesn't matter - we volunteer our time here as we love the NHS. I'd take a pay cut if it meant we'd stay open."
What does this say about the wider NHS?
Regarding cost cutting procedures elsewhere, Dr Marsh said: "We aren't even allowed to give patients a cup of tea and a biscuit anymore, sometimes they may need it if their blood sugar is low.
"I don't think any political party will be brave enough to scrap the NHS as it would be toxic... But the NHS needs to stop focussing on targets and start putting quality first. If you give your patients a high quality standard of care, everything else will follow.
"They say the NHS is free at the point of service, but sadly that is no longer the case and it is such a shame."