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MP demands urgent meeting with health minister over Watton surgery

PUBLISHED: 07:24 11 June 2014 | UPDATED: 09:16 11 June 2014

Watton Medical Practice.

Watton Medical Practice.

A Norfolk MP has demanded an urgent meeting with the health minister over drastic measures to de-register 1,500 patients from Watton Medical Practice.

The surgery has begun writing to patients who fall outside a new prescribed catchment area, telling them they will be de-registered with two weeks’ notice.

Yesterday Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman raised the practice’s ongoing crisis in the House of Commons and told the Times that de-registration should not be automatic. “I will also be contacting the Clinical Commissioning Group to ask that Watton’s de-registering of patients is done as far as possible on a voluntary basis and/or at the convenience of patients,” he said.

“I want to make sure re-registering doesn’t shift undue pressure on to adjacent practices.”

The troubled surgery in Gregor Shanks Way has come under pressure in recent months after concerns were raised over its ability to meet the demand for appointments.

In the last year it has been trying to recruit two new GPs to meet the needs of the 13,000 registered patients. But practice manager Mary Osborne said the failure to do so had meant the ratio of patients to doctors had increased above what is deemed to be clinically safe by the NHS.

She said the “list review” – which included not taking on any new patients other than immediate family members of existing patients – was now “the only option” to ensure quality and safety of care.

“It has been an immensely difficult decision to de-register some patients, especially when we have been trying so hard to recruit more GPs so we could maintain and grow our patient base,” she said. “Patients have been, and always will be, at the heart of the service we provide. We hope that patients will recognise this is the case even now, and will support us in working through this process.”

The letter sent to patients suggests practices where patients can re-register, which include East Harling and Kenninghall, Hingham, Shipdham and three in Swaffham.

NHS England said it had no plans for a second surgery in Watton.

It also said it was not possible to provide a definitive list of areas that will be affected but said anyone who has been de-registered will have been contacted by the end of June.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “The process of de-registering patients who can receive care in alternative practices is being done in a staged way to minimise disruption to the community as a whole and to support surrounding practices in registering new patients.

“Whilst NHS England understands the pressure on Watton Medical Practice to address its capacity issues, it is regrettable that the practice has felt it necessary to de-register patients.

“NHS England is working with practices in the surrounding area to ensure that any new patients can be registered and that care is not compromised for existing patients.”

What do you think? Email rosa.mcmahon@archant.co.uk

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