FURTHER talks are due to be held to determine the future of a Gwent GP practice which is handing back its contract to the health board after struggling to hire enough doctors.

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the partnership which runs the Blaenavon Medical Practice is resigning its contract, citing a “inability to recruit new GPs to fill existing vacancies”.

Patients registered at the practice were informed of this development in a letter sent to them by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which oversees healthcare across Gwent.

Following the practice announcing its intention to hand over the practice on December 31, 2022, a process to come up with a solution for the patients who visit the Middle Coed Cae Road surgery was started.

This, known as the vacant practice process, involves a panel meeting to determine the best cause of action.

Options can include advertising the practice to secure a new GP partnership, allocating patients to other local GP practices or the health board taking over responsibility for the practice.

While the panel met on Wednesday, May 25, in the first instance, and made a recommendation to the health board, the outcome of this remained confidential.

Now, the health board has told the Argus that “a further panel is to take place in August”.

It is hoped that the second panel meeting will provide clarity for patients, who have been reassured by local councillors that “access to GP services will continue on January 1 2023”, and beyond.

What is the situation currently?

Meanwhile, the surgery, under its existing partnership, has been experiencing staffing issues at this time.

This week, they have been forced to postpone a number of routine appointments, due to “a severe reduction in GP workforce”.

They said that this has come as a result of “unforeseen circumstances”.

As a consequence, a number of routine appointments which were set to take place across the week are set to be rearrange to a later date.

Urgent care provision is understood to have continued as normal, while the health board was made aware of the situation.

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “Due to unforeseen staffing issues, Blaenavon Medical Centre has temporarily limited services to urgent and essential care this week.

“We're working with the practice to identify any additional support that may be required.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and would like to thank patients registered with the Practice for their understanding at this time."