Plea for Watton Medical Practice to reconsider de-registering most vulnerable patients

Watton Medical Practice.

Watton Medical Practice. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

An MP has called for a surgery which has decided to de-register 1,500 patients to re-consider the cases of the people who will be hardest hit by the controversial move.

NHS England and the Local Medical Committee agreed with the Watton Medical Practice, in south-west Norfolk, that people who fall outside a new prescribed catchment area will have to find another GP.

The surgery had failed to recruit two more doctors, and those affected include 95-year-old great-grandmother Lily Dove, who said she had been 'thrown out on the scrap heap'.

Other people who have been affected include former soldier Dave Pendry, who is 47 and lost both his legs to diabetes.

Now Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has said it was wrong that the de-registration process was taking place on a postcode basis, and without any discretion.

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He said: 'The difficulties that the Watton Practice has had in retaining and recruiting GPs have left them now two GPs short and made it necessary for some patients to be registered with neighbouring surgeries.

'I would have hoped that NHS England and the practice could have found temporary GP cover to prevent this, but having made the decision I am very concerned that the re-registering of patients is done in a way that is sensitive to people's circumstances.

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'I have heard from a number of constituents who, whether because of their age, infirmity or lack of access to a vehicle or public transport, find it very difficult to attend a surgery in a neighbouring village.

'I am asking that the practice consider offering those patients for whom this is seriously inconvenient the chance to remain.'

The practice could not be contacted last night, but a spokesman for NHS England has previously said that the practice had adhered to the advice from the Local Medical Committee, the British Medical Association and the Medical Defence Union to de-register 1,500 patients 'in the fairest way possible'.

Mr Freeman added: 'This saga raises important issues about the appropriate process for practices in dealing with patients, which I have raised with NHS England and the minister, to seek clarification of what rights patients have, and what responsibility NHS managers have to take account of patients' needs.'

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