Patients express fears over proposed closure of Hawkinge branch GP surgery
Labour has organised a meeting to listen to patient fears about the proposed closure of Hawkinge branch GP surgery. Despite snow flurries, around 30 people gathered at Hawkinge Community Centre on Sunday night to share their concerns. Almost all of them were patients of the Hawkinge branch surgery. Issues raised included:
- Problems with access to the surgery in Lyminge given the absence of sufficient parking (only enough for staff), and, for those without a car, a very lengthy journey bus journey – having to go into Folkestone and out again. Concern was also expressed that access into the Lyminge portakabin itself was already difficult for those with limited mobility.
- The journey would be especially onerous for people with multiple and complex health needs. A number of individuals who either suffered from poor health, or had caring responsibilities to family members, expressed anxiety about fitting travelling to Lyminge in around work, childcare and other pressures.
- Waiting times add difficulty to the journey.
- Additional travel costs to patients who are already struggling to make ends meet.
- Will doctors come out to elderly patients if they have no surgery in Hawkinge?
- If you need a repeat prescription you would have to go to the surgery in Lyminge?
- People felt torn between rupturing their long established relationship with their doctor in Hawkinge, and enduring the journey, and costs of travel, to Lyminge. One man said that, for some, it would be less onerous for them to go to A & E in Ashford on the bus than to travel to the doctor in Lyminge from Hawkinge.
- There is a far larger community in Hawkinge so it seemed illogical to move capacity from there to Lyminge.
- Many patients had not received the consultation letter from the surgery.
The proposed closure of the surgery was met with bafflement by attendees who had previously been told that the surgery would be moving into one of the new retail premises near to Lidl. It was entirely unclear why that was not now being pursued and whether the serious impact on patients and local people was a price worth paying for the move.
Labour understands the nearby Hawkinge and Elham practice is currently taking on patients after recruiting a new GP but it is not clear how many the surgery can take, what the process would be if people wished to re-register and how it will be managed to ensure vulnerable people don’t suffer.
A consultation about the plans closes on Friday.
Laura Davison, our candidate in the 2017 General Election said:
What we have here is a potential mess. Until people’s really valid concerns and questions have been answered, there should be no question of shutting this branch surgery. We need proper time to work
together to look at other solutions and we cannot have a repeat of what happened when Folkestone East GP practice closed — when vulnerable people were left high and dry amid confusion and anxiety.
Labour has written to the Clinical Commissioning Group to seek answers on its plans for Hawkinge.
You can contact us for more information or to share your concerns here