Lynn community group express concerns over possible surgery move

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A Lynn community group has raised fresh concerns over proposals which could see a GP practice move to the edge of the town.

Health chiefs maintain no decisions have yet been taken on the future make-up of GP provision, including the potential move of the St James Medical Practice to a site in Kilhams Way.

And practice managers say the idea of a move has the support of a majority of its patients.

But that claim has been questioned by officials from the St Margarets and St Nicholas ward forum, who say that only one of its members had been consulted.

The group’s chairman, Dr Julian Litten, said: “This is extremely disturbing.”

Speaking to the Lynn News last month, St James practice managers said any move to a new site could take up to three years to complete.

They claim they have been forced to seek alternative premises because it had proved “impossible” to expand at the surgery’s present site in County Court Road.

Particular concerns were raised about parking pressures in the area, while efforts to expand into an empty nursery and the former tax office were also ruled out on planning and cost grounds respectively.

The practice says any move would only go ahead if suitable public transport arrangements could be made with local operators.

And it also claims its survey of patient opinions showed 60 per cent supporting the move, with 77 per cent saying they would stay with the practice even if the move went ahead.

But the forum says it has written to the practice on two occasions asking for figures of the number of patients who took part in its consultation, but have not been given them.

Dr Litten said: “Over and again, we have been told that the proposal has patient support, as 60 per cent of those consulted agreed with the move.

“But we find it very hard to believe that this can be so.”

The forum’s comments come just days after county councillor Alexandra Kemp criticised health service officials for their decision to reallocate funding that had been earmarked for a new surgery in South Lynn.

Earlier this week, NHS England said the project was not financially viable, because of specific issues relating to the proposed site, including drainage and estimated construction costs.

Ruth Derrett, the group’s locality director for East Anglia, said they recognised the need to expand GP provision in the town in order to cope with projected population growth.

She added: “This project is at a very early stage and no decisions have been made about the location of any future new developments.”

But opponents are worried that the South Lynn decision, together with the possible St James move, could make access to GP services much more difficult for people who need help the most.

Dr Litten said: “The practice has told us that no firm decision has been made - but with the site ready and waiting for development, it surely will not be long before that decision is made,”