New King's Lynn surgery plan would 'replace region's worst', report claims
A Lynn doctors’ surgery has been branded as the worst in the region in documents justifying its proposed £5 million relocation.
Documents released as part of the planning application to replace the St James Medical Practice warn there is a "pressing need" for the proposed new facility off Edward Benefer Way.
But health chiefs have been accused of ignoring the need for increased GP services in Lynn itself after planned talks were postponed last week.
Practice bosses announced last month that they had submitted a formal application for planning to build a new facility to replace its existing building on County Court Road.
And newly published documents, submitted as part of the proposal to West Norfolk Council, have renewed warnings about the need for the new scheme.
The papers said: “The new NHS facility is a key part of the [Norfolk and Waveney] Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) healthcare strategy for King’s Lynn as a whole.
“The current practice premises are the worst in the CCG region and there is a pressing need to open the new facility by the end of 2022.
“There is considerable commitment to the delivery of this project within this timescale from patients, the GPs, the NHS, and the local authority.”
Practice officials have said the new site will offer patients more consulting rooms, improved equipment and parking for more than 90 vehicles if the development gets the go-ahead.
They have argued for many years that a new surgery is needed to replace the current building, which has been in use for more than 50 years, and hope the development will be completed by November of next year.
But the application site lies in the neighbouring parish of South Wootton, rather than in Lynn itself and concerns have been raised about the impact of the proposed move on services for patients living in southern parts of the town.
The CCG has insisted it is committed to expanding GP practice provision across the area, despite planned talks being postponed last week.
But Alexandra Kemp says people in the South Lynn area, which she represents at both borough and county levels, are already finding it difficult to get appointments even before the St James move.
She said: “It is an absolute scandal that surgeries are being taken out of deprived areas and put in leafy suburbs.
“The local NHS is turning a blind eye to local need.”
Communications seen by the Lynn News showed a planned engagement meeting scheduled for last Wednesday was postponed until later this month as officials deemed there would not be a “substantial agenda” for discussion.
The CCG said: “Work continues to take place to review primary care services in the King’s Lynn area to ensure we have fit for purpose buildings, services and facilities now and in the future.
“Plans are in place with the hope King’s Lynn will benefit from two new build GP practices. Engagement continues to take place with local people, partner organisations and GP practices.”
Miss Kemp was one of four councillors who signed a letter to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, earlier this year, calling for a new surgery to be developed before the St James practice moves.
The letter by the St Margarets and St Nicholas Ward Forum, also signed by the former Lynn News editor Malcolm Powell, warned some patients would go without treatment altogether unless a new surgery is provided.
The planning documents said 17 different sites had been assessed for a new surgery, with four going to a detailed appraisal process which concluded the application site was the most appropriate.
The reports also claimed the site will be “well served” by public transport options, with the nearest bus stop around a quarter of a mile away.
A transport statement also submitted within the application argued that the development of a green travel plan would reduce the number of car journeys to the site by up to 15 per cent, in line with expected levels.