Consultation on surgery ‘after local elections’
A public consultation on the future of a Lynn medical practice is set to take place after May’s council elections, health chiefs have revealed.
Officials yesterday said all options for the Fairstead Surgery would be considered in the process.
But campaigners have warned that scores more patients are likely to seek hospital treatment if the practice is downgraded or shut.
Last month, leaders of the surgery’s patient participation group (PPG) joined forces with local councillors to launch a campaign to save the surgery, which they fear is at risk of closure after several rooms were put out of public use.
At that stage, the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it was working with the surgery’s operators, Vida Healthcare, on proposals for future provision in the area.
And, in a further statement yesterday, the group said: “West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group will be supporting Vida Healthcare in its plans to consult patients and the public on the future of Fairstead Surgery.
“The consultation will explore all options for the surgery’s future.
“The consultation will be run by HealthWatch Norfolk and is likely to begin in May after the local elections.”
The CCG says the consultation cannot take place before then, because it is covered by restrictions on local government activity in the period leading up to elections, known as purdah.
However, since launching its campaign, the PPG has been conducting its own survey of patients and collecting signatures for a petition against any moves to further downgrade or close the practice.
Out of 405 responses the group said it had received yesterday, more than a quarter, 115, indicated that the patient concerned would seek treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s accident and emergency department or another unspecified source if the surgery was not available to them.
Around 10 per cent of responses specifically identified A&E as the chosen location for treatment and the PPG believes the true scale of that demand is likely to be far higher.
PPG secretary Dr Penelope Watkins said the reasons for that would include the length of waits to get appointments and the cost of travelling to alternative practices.
She added: “Because of the expense of going into town, it’s cheaper to go to A&E.”