Manager defends closure of Norfolk GP surgery

Terry Clarkson, (L to R) Chris Davy, Ann Baker and Patrick Marney outside the surgery in Dickleburgh

Terry Clarkson, (L to R) Chris Davy, Ann Baker and Patrick Marney outside the surgery in Dickleburgh that they want to save from closure. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

The manager of a GP practice yesterday defended a decision to close a satellite surgery in south Norfolk, which was made in the 'best interests' of local patients.

Problems with the reform of the NHS and delays in the formation of a leadership at Norfolk County Council meant that the closure of the surgery in Dickleburgh, near Diss, was not properly consulted on, councillors said.

Members of the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee quizzed officials from Church Hill GP Practice in Pulham Market and NHS England over the decision to shut the satellite surgery, which had been open two mornings a week.

Debbie Wade, practice manager, said an unannounced inspection from the Care Quality Commission last year found that the Dickleburgh branch was the 'worst in Norfolk' and needed £70,000 of work to bring it up to standard.

She said that two of the three surgery partners had decided to leave and the decision was made to close the Dickleburgh surgery and invest in the facility in Pulham Market. She added that NHS Norfolk was meant to write to all patients affected, but failed to inform them because the primary care trust was being dissolved.

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'We have to think about all our patients and we made a decision to expand and improve. We have a new consulting room, a new training room and we are expanding the car park. It has been quite a difficult time for the surgery and building work has been completed and has made such a difference,' she said.

More than 300 villagers signed a petition against the closure of the Dickleburgh surgery. Bev Spratt, local county councillor, said Dickleburgh Parish Council was willing to invest in upgrading the surgery building to bring it up to standard.

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'It is a robust village with a lot of facilities and it is disappointing to have this facility taken away when villages are being asked to expand,' he said.

Peter Wightman, director of commissioning at NHS England's East Anglia area team, said the decision and investment at Church Hill Surgery would lead to better primary care services for local people.

Michael Carttiss, chairman of the scrutiny committee, added that councillors were unable to discuss the proposals before a decision was made because of delays in forming a leadership and committee membership following the county council elections where no political party had overall control.

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