One of the factors that has led a doctors’ surgery in the heart of Lynn to seek a move out of town, is the behaviour of parking wardens.
The St James Medical Practice in County Court Road is contemplating a move to a new purpose-built site in the Kilhams Way area of North Lynn.
The news has sparked concern from some of its 16,500 patients (of which 1,718 are over 75) with councillors worried about accessibility.
But speaking to the Lynn News this week, practice manager Kathy Foley and GP executive partner Dr Antonia Moussakou said nothing was decided yet.
However, both agreed that parking was a major issue driving any move.
The surgery only has a small car park and double yellow lines outside.
Mrs Foley said: “Parking enforcement officers are literally stood outside stopping patients from dropping people off.
“We approached the (St James’) multi-storey car park to emulate what happens in Norwich, where the surgery in the centre of the city, is given free parking. But they would not agree to that.”
Dr Moussakou said that people had been alarmed by the story but that a move was still some way off.
She said: “We have had to deal with a lot of phone calls from patients saying ‘when are you moving’. But we are not moving at this moment in time. It could be three years. We are exploring our options.
“The priority is transport links, such as bus routes. We don’t want to discriminte against anyone that does not drive. We would have preferred to have stayed central. But we need to expand and it has proved impossible here.
“The diocese will not let us remove the tombstones on the land next door, even though there are no bodies buried there.
“We looked at moving into the nursery next door, but that denied by the planners. We also looked at the empty tax office but that cost too much to contemplate.”
There are 13 doctors working out of the surgery, currently using 23 rooms.
A move to Hillington Square was ruled out because the site was too small, South Quay was deemed to be a flood risk and Lynn’s Old Post Office in Baxter’s Plain was slated for residential use instead.
“If it does go through, it could be two to three years,” said Mrs Foley.
She said the move would only go ahead if suitable public transport arrangements could be made with organisations such as WEst Norfolk Community Minibus, Dial-A-Bus and Norfolk Green. “if we did not have that we would have to rethink,” she stressed.
Dr Moussakou said that the survey of patients had taken place over a six-week period, both at the surgery and online. She said: “We were surprised by the results.Sixty per cent said yes. And 77 per cent of patients said they would stay with us even if we moved. We don’t want to lose any patients but we do really need to expand.”
Both stressed that the kind of crises currently befalling Vida Healthcare in Lynn, whereby it is losing a large amount of the money paid to it by the NHS, could befall St James, unless it expands to take on more responsibilities, such as minor surgery.
Saying the days of traditional “Dr Finlay” doctor’s surgeries were at an end, Mrs Foley said: “We cannot survive on GMS (general mdeical services) and PMS (personal medical services). The highest rating we cant get from (health inspectors) the CQC is good. you can only attain outstanding if you are in a purpose-built surgery. And that is what we want to be, outstanding.”
Dr Moussakou said that at present narrow corridors and doorways meant the practice was struggling to cope with wider wheelchairs and buggies and a decent dedicated training room was needed. “The reception is inadequate and three out fo the four nurses rooms have no windows.”
Mrs Foley said: “We have adapted but we can have it better.”