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Plans to relocate St James Medical Practice to South Wootton have been approved

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West Norfolk Council approved plans for a new medical centre in South Wootton today, to replace St James Medical Practice.

Practice bosses hope to open the new surgery which will be on Edward Benefer Way, which is expected to cost around £5 million to build, in November next year.

The surgery has spent several years looking for a site to replace its current premises in County Court Road.

An artist's impression of the proposed replacement for the St James Medical Practice (47337914)
An artist's impression of the proposed replacement for the St James Medical Practice (47337914)

Dr Prabir Mitra, who started at St James as a trainee and is now a partner, said: "Lets leave aside issues like blocked toilets and the leaky roof - we have served the community for decades, but as nostalgic as the premises are they are no longer fit for purpose with an ageing and growing population that has increasing health needs.

"We want to expand on what we can provide, a purpose built building will give incentive for new doctors to join the practice.

"There isn't even enough space for patients with buggies and wheelchairs to go up and down the corridors, we can't deal with the capacity or do our work to the best of our ability in the current premises, we want to do more for patients.

St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn.. (46225280)
St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn.. (46225280)

"It will not satisfy everyone but it's for the greater good of the community."

Concerns were raised about the accessibility of the new premises to patients living in Lynn without access to a vehicle or those who may be suffering financial hardship.

Francis Bone said: "I realise that St James is struggling to cope. I have concerns that many of the patients in the area particularly those in South Lynn,West Winch and Clenchwarton.

"There was talk of them re-locating to North Lynn but there has been little mention of the demographic of these patients.

"Many town centre areas have people who do not have access to a car.

"Those who are suffering hardship would be less inclined to use the surgery if there is an added cost implication in getting there, this is not the case for those living in the Wootton area."

St James has been a mainstay of the West Norfolk area since the 70's, but in recent years has been declared the "region's worst" primary care facility.

Documents alongside the planning application spoke of the "pressing need" for a new surgery.

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.”

Reacting to the decision after the discussion, one local resident who uses St James Medical Practice said she was "furious".

She said: "I've worked full-time, I don't drive so how am I supposed to get to the doctor unless they choose to run a special surgery on a Saturday?

"For people like myself it's not just the travel, it's the cost implication you have to get a taxi or a bus when you aren't feeling well it affects everything.

"It's the mental state of not feeling well and having to travel. Working full time you can only get an appointment in the evening as a 60-year-old woman I don't want to have to get a bus after work later on a night feeling unwell and unsafe.

"It makes me feel like they want to get rid of people of a lower income and put in in a more affluent area."

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