The surgery on Westwood Avenue which has served the Whitten Estate and the Broadwaters Road area for twenty years is being closed. East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH), a public enterprise body funded by the NHS which has been providing GP services there, has sited concerns about the building as the reason. The previous GP, Dr Fergal O’Driscoll, who still owns the building has expressed a,“ shock at the sudden ‘ ‘ decision when discussions to resolve relatively minor issues were ongoing. ECCH has also failed to pay any rent, surely grounds for ECCH itself to be stripped of the contract.
Over 2000 patients of the practice are no doubt also shocked. A convenient, local and well-regarded GP surgery will be closed without notice or regard for the patients. It serves an area which includes many families with young children and vulnerable elderly patients. They are to be transferred to a surgery over a mile away on the other side of the busy A12 relief road in Kirkley Mill, the health centre built to replace Lowestoft Hospital.
An expert lawyer commented on a surgery closure in Devon. He told GPon/ine ”there should be consultation any time required services are withdrawn, whateverthe contract type”. In fact, under the 2006 act, NHS England is required to involve the public in commissioning services. There has been no consultation, no involvement.
Not The First; Not The Last
When two Lowestoft surgeries were closed after Care Quality Commission inspections last year only one was replaced. Victoria Road Surgery took over the Marine Parade Surgery, based in Kirkley Mill. Patients’ representative, Terry Rymer, wanted the Oulton Medical Centre retained:”|f another doctors’ practice bought it or ran it, that would be ideal. It’s all there and ready and there are homes developments going around it.” It remains closed and for sale. The local NHS body which holds the money and commissions services, Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has made it clear that the late Oulton Broad Medical Centre will not reopen as a surgery. There will be even fewer GP surgeries in future if this government gets its way.
The Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG has a long list of closures to its name. It closed Lowestoft Hospital against widespread opposition followed by Southwold Hospital, Halesworth’s Patrick Stead Hospital and Greyfriars Medical Centre in Yarmouth. |t intends to close the Minor Injuries Unit in Beccles Hospital. In addition Carlton Court Hospital in Carlton Colville, an almost new purpose built facility for patients with mental health conditions, has been closed for adult patients.