A Lynn doctors’ surgery can become a “one-stop shop” for local health services if relocation plans are implemented, managers claimed yesterday.
A town community group has claimed a new alternative site for the St James Medical Practice could be even worse than the one it replaced.
But health chiefs insist no decisions have yet been made on whether to move the surgery, though funding has been provided for proposals to be developed.
The future of the practice first came into the spotlight in March last year, when it was revealed plans to move it from its current home in County Court Road to Kilhams Way were being looked at.
Although those proposals were subsequently abandoned, the practice is now working with borough council officials and NHS England bosses on a alternative site, off Edward Benefer Way.
Surgery bosses have consistently insisted they have no choice but to move to a new site because of a lack of space and car parking.
Practice manager Kathy Foley said the scheme was crucial to the surgery’s long-term prospects.
She said: “We’re concentrating on building the best possible facilities for our patients today, and for decades to come.
“The proposed site gives us the chance to extend the range of healthcare provision we provide: for example, an on-site pharmacy.
“We can become a one-stop shop, offering community and primary healthcare. The site is still central to the town, but offers easier access to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“We’re very pleased that the proposal is progressing. It is key to the future of the practice.”
But members of the St Margarets and St Nicholas ward community forum say they are still worried about the potential impact on patients who do not have their own transport.
In a letter to the practice, group chairman Dr Julian Litten said the scrapping of the Kilhams Way scheme was a “great relief” to members.
But he argued the new plan would be even worse, because it would be more difficult for patients who need to use public transport to get there.
He said: “Obviously we wish for the plan to be abandoned.
“If it is imperative that it should go ahead, a satellite surgery should be retained in the town centre for the infirm, impoverished and other vulnerable users groups who are without transport.”
Alistair Beales, West Norfolk Council cabinet member for corporate projects and assets, added: “We are working to facilitate the delivery of enhanced medical provision for the residents of King’s Lynn.”
But county councillor Alexandra Kemp has called for talks to take place with a view to the surgery potentially expanding into Vancouver House, near its current home, as an alternative.
She said: “I would like to ask NHS England to put patients first and keep the town centre surgery where it can best serve the ageing demographic patient population.
“Using Vancouver House for an expanded GP surgery would benefit thousands of local residents.
“Thousands of pounds of public money has rightly helped to expand the current surgery but the benefit would be lost if the current use is ended.”
But Andrea Patman, head of commissioning for NHS England (East), said: “The proposal for a new healthcare development in King’s Lynn is at an early stage and no decisions have been made about the location of any new premises.
“All new developments are subject to a business case being submitted and approved by partner NHS organisations, to ensure the best outcome for patients.
“NHS England has allocated funding to St James Medical Practice, via the Estates and Technology Transformation Fund, to be used to develop a full business case.
“This will consider options for any relocation of the practice, including looking at potential sites, the services it might deliver and how to ensure any work carried out is good value for money.
“We are working closely with the practice and NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group on options and plans, as they develop.”