Surgery saved after patients object to closure

Fairstead Surgery, which has been saved Picture: Ian Burt

Fairstead Surgery, which has been saved Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Controversial plans to close a doctor's surgery have been abandoned.

The Fairstead Surgery in King's Lynn has been saved. Photo: Casey Cooper-Fiske

The Fairstead Surgery in King's Lynn has been saved. Photo: Casey Cooper-Fiske - Credit: Archant

The future of the Fairstead Surgery in King's Lynn had been under review by Vida Healthcare.

The provider said it was not fit for purpose and patients were not being treated in a safe and accessible environment.

It said they could be treated at its Gayton Road or St Augustines surgeries.

But hundreds objected during a consultation carried out by Healthwatch Norfolk.

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Today the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the surgery would be remaining open.

Ward councillor Gary Howman, who campaigned to save the facility, was told with other councillors at a meeting shortly before the news was formally announced.

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"I was glad to hear that the Fairstead GP will remain open," he said. "It is a vital resource for thousands of local people.

"I am pleased that Vida Healthcare and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) listened to the views and concerns of patients, local Councillors and Sir Henry Bellingham.

"It was encouraging to hear the CCG pledge that they want to maintain and widen the services offered to patients on Fairstead and will explore all options around improving the existing building as well as the possibility of a new building.

"This brings to an end two and a half years of anxiety for Fairstead patients and I am hopeful now that things will get better for local residents needing NHS services."

One female patient said: "It's so important, everyone round here wanted it saved

"My husband has been very ill, and he needs it so much, but I must now say the doctors in there have been fantastic, they've saved his life on a couple of occasions.

"The other thing is there's so many elderly people that live round here, I live on Hanover and oldest woman living there is 90, so how was she supposed to get to Gayton."

Melanie Craig, chief officer of the CCGs in Norfolk and Waveney, said: "During the consultation period we attended public meetings and also took part in discussions with local councillors which provided valuable insight into the feelings of local people and the real need for health services which are appropriate and accessible.

"Vida Healthcare has listened very carefully to what local people have told them, and as a result of this, and at their request we are supporting them to consider further options.

"Fairstead branch surgery will remain open as we explore these options.

"It is clear is that the people of Fairstead need to access good quality primary care services so that they improve their health outcomes. This may mean accessing health care from a different place or in a different way. With this in mind we need to think more widely and to develop different options, taking into consideration the feedback we have received from local people.

"We have also embarked on a wider piece of work to consider the capacity of primary care estates in the wider King's Lynn area. We will continue to look at this with an open mind and from every angle to try and find a sustainable solution that works for local people and all the partners involved."

Concerns expressed in the consultation included concerns over travelling to other nearby surgeries using public transport in the event of Fairstead closing.

"Insufficient parking provisions at the Gayton Road Surgery, where parking often overflows into a nearby church's car park, was a major concern among respondents - especially regarding how this problem may get worse if the Fairstead Surgery closes," Healthwatch's report said.

"Some respondents feel that travelling on foot is impractical, particularly for those with limited mobility. Concerns were also raised about how travel costs to the other surgeries may impact those on lower incomes." The recommendation to keep the surgery open will be discussed at a meeting of the CCG's primary care commissioning committee on Friday, January 31.

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