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King's Lynn surgery move is 'best option', says patients' group head

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A patients’ representative has backed multi-million pound proposals for the relocation of a Lynn medical practice.

Further talks have taken place this week over plans to move the St James Medical Practice from its present site in County Court Road to a purpose-built facility off Edward Benefer Way.

And it is thought that a formal planning application could be submitted soon.

St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn.. (43575074)
St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn.. (43575074)

Although a move has been sought for several years, the issue only came back onto the agenda last September, when it emerged that the practice had engaged a developer in order to identify potential sites.

Concerns have been raised that relocation will make it more difficult for people living in the south of the town and nearby villages, particularly those without their own transport, to access the care they need.

But senior practice officials told a county health overview and scrutiny meeting in November that the present building wasn’t safe and they had “no choice” but to move.

And Ian Gutteridge, who chairs the practice’s patient participation group, says his organisation agrees.

Speaking on Wednesday, after what was described as an informal meeting on the issue held virtually the previous evening, he said: “We think it’s the best option. You’ve got to look at what you’re replacing at the current building.

“I’ve been pushing over-80s in wheelchairs round there this morning. It’s not well set to serve that and many other activities.”

Mr Gutteridge said the group felt there had been a need for an up to date primary care facility to be provided in Lynn for many years and there was a broader effort to maintain provision in the town.

Plans to close the Fairstead Surgery and give its patients the choice of transferring to practices in Gaywood or North Lynn caused uproar among residents, patients and political representatives before they were finally scrapped last year.

The current St James surgery was one of the first locations in Norfolk to begin offering vaccinations against coronavirus as one of the hubs offering the Pfizer jab last December.

Since then, dozens of volunteers have been helping the programme in areas such as marshalling the limited car parking space near the practice and monitoring patients once they’ve had their jab.

The relocation plan is expected to cost around £5 million to complete.

Health chiefs have previously indicated that funding is available for it, but have warned the money could be jeopardised by any delay to the project.

The new building will also need planning permission and it is believed that an application could be submitted to West Norfolk Council within the next few weeks, though that has yet to be confirmed.

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