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Fairstead Surgery saved from closure as health bosses back work on alternatives

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A Lynn medical practice has been saved from closure today after health bosses formally rejected a proposal to shut it.

Members of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group's primary care commissioning committee have voted not to accept recommendations relating to the Fairstead Surgery and to initiate a broader consultation on future provision.

However, it is still unclear exactly what services will be provided from the site while longer-term solutions are drawn up.

Fairstead Surgery GV King's Lynn. (7249285)
Fairstead Surgery GV King's Lynn. (7249285)

And its former GP, Dr Mumtaz Ahmed, pleaded for urgent action to brings services back to the site for a community he described as "the best."

He added: "Please help us."

The future of the practice has been a hot topic for the past year since patients' representatives and councillors launched a campaign to save it.

Subsequently, the practice's operator, Vida Healthcare, proposed that it should be closed and its patients given the choice of transferring to either the Gayton Road Health Centre or the St Augustine's practice in North Lynn.

But, following widespread opposition, the CCG last week announced that Vida had changed its mind and was now seeking support for alternative options.

Speaking during this afternoon's meeting in Lynn, West Norfolk locality director Howard Martin said the option of using the former Surestart centre on the Fairstead estate had already been ruled out as the building was deemed to be too small.

He added that redeveloping the existing surgery or building a new one on part of the nearby car park where a proposed housing development was turned down in December were currently being considered.

And he indicated the project could benefit from part of a £5 million funding package for primary care in West Norfolk, which was allocated in the autumn, as well as the potential for capital investment from West Norfolk Council.

But, during an earlier session of public comments, questions were raised about how services would be provided in the interim period.

Tony Webster said: "We have not had a GP at the surgery for the last 12 months and it has been spasmodic for the last four or five years.

"Why can't we have a doctor there now? The surgery needs a doctor."

And Penelope Watkins, secretary of the surgery's patient participation group, called for early work to "spruce up" the building as a means of creating public confidence in the process.

Mr Martin said the CCG "fully recognises" the challenges the building poses.

He added: "All I can say at this point is, subject to the decision here, that will trigger off a process to consider exactly that."

Papers published ahead of the meeting revealed that a new community group would be set up over the coming weeks to discuss the future shape of care provision in the area.

Mr Martin said it was hoped an initial meeting would take place in either late February or early March.

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