King's Lynn GP pleads: 'Don't shut this surgery'
A GP at a threatened Lynn medical practice has pleaded with bosses not to make its community’s deprivation worse by closing it.
Angry residents and campaigners claimed the fate of the Fairstead Surgery had already been sealed during the first of three public consultation sessions on its future this week.
But the group which runs the practice says its proposal is the best option for providing high quality future care.
Vida Healthcare is recommending that the surgery is shut and its estimated 4,000 patients access care at one of its other two town practices – the Gayton Road Health Centre or St Augustine’s in North Lynn.
Speaking in the meeting at the Fairstead Community Centre yesterday, Melvyn Peverett, of Vida, said the surgery building had been declared “non-compliant” by the Care Quality Commission in 2012, though this is disputed by objectors, and plans for a new surgery had not progressed.
He said: “The premises are presenting more and more challenges to keep them as safe as we can for patients and our staff and we can’t continue in the same way for much longer. The risks are getting higher and higher.”
He said closure was their preferred option but added: “A decision has not been taken. This is all about starting the process of listening to what you have got to say.
“It may be difficult for you to see where we’re coming from, but we want the best possible care for all our patients.”
But Dr Mumtaz Ahmed, the GP who currently works at the surgery, described the closure proposal as a “very sorrowful situation” and made an emotional plea for a rethink.
Having been loudly applauded when he arrived at the event, he said: “This is the most deprived part of King’s Lynn.
“Don’t make them more deprived than what they are.”
Residents called for Dr Ahmed to be kept in post until the autumn, when commissioners are expected to decide if the surgery will close or not.
Members of the public were also critical of how the consultation events had been scheduled and the online process set up for people to take part.
And Glyn Watkins, chairman of the surgery’s patient participation group, reasserted campaigners’ views that the practice had already been run down by Vida.
He said: “Three of the seven consulting rooms are out of commission. They have effectively been closed.
“The closure process has already started. You have put the cart before the horse. “It does seem as though it’s a foregone conclusion. That is what we all believe.”
Another resident asked: “When are the bulldozers coming?”
The consultation continues until August 30. Further consultation events are scheduled to take place at the Fairstead Community Centre on July 9 and the Gayton Road Health Centre on August 14.
More details are available at www.healthwatchnorfolk.co.uk/fairstead-primary-care-consultation/