Diss patients face drive for doctors’ care as Out of Hours service moves

The planned move of an Out of Hours doctors service from Diss will go ahead this weekend despite protests from the town council, who fear patients will have to travel long distances for medical treatment.

The Norfolk Out of Hours service (OOH) base is scheduled to move from its current home in Roydon Road, to larger, more modern facilities at Long Stratton tomorrow.

But a number of town councillors, including Diss mayor Graham Minshull, have expressed concerns about the move, and the council also wrote to the East of England Ambulance Service and NHS Norfolk and Waveney to protest against the plans.

Mr Minshull and deputy mayor Neil Howard feared patients would have to travel to Long Stratton to receive medical treatment because there were no health facilities available in Diss.

And councillor Simon Olander said he could not understand why a town of 7,000 people such as Diss had not got a health centre, when smaller towns and villages such as Eye and Botesdale had got medical facilities.

However, in a statement the East of England Ambulance Service said the move would mean patients would be no longer than a 30 minute drive from the Out of Hours service, which was not the case when the service was based in Diss where the building was considered no longer fit for purpose.

The statement added the new base was located at a doctors surgery which provided better NHS computer system connectivity and a local pharmacy, as well as being easier to find, with better access and ample free parking.

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Lyn Reynolds, associate director of primary care at OOH providers, the East of England Ambulance Service, said: 'Patients will really feel the benefit of the new base at Long Stratton which is much better for the wider community.

'It has modern facilities, better access and better integration with NHS systems and local family GPs in a large practice.

'And it will now mean that any patient living in South Norfolk will be able to reach an OOH service within a 30-minute drive. This really is great news for patients in the area.'

Analysis of call for the last six months showed that, out of all the calls received by the OOH service in south Norfolk, only 1.5pc came from Diss with greater activity in Harleston, Long Stratton and neighbouring areas.

Additional out of hours bases in Norfolk include Thetford and Norwich as well as a mobile GP service for home visits

Patients needing urgent care are encouraged to phone 01603 488488.

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