Patients left in the dark as GP crisis escalates

Patients are being left in the dark as the GP surgery crisis in Folkestone escalates.

On Friday GPs at 7 surgeries in the town announced they would be closing their lists in response to a forced redistribution of patients from Folkestone East Family Practice which shuts its doors at the end of October. Patients of the practice, many of whom have long term health conditions which need regular treatment, have had no direct information about the situation since an initial letter about the closure on May 17th.

Feedback from consultation with patients has not been shared. Last week the Clinical Commissioning Group said they would be writing to patients in the next few days — just before GPs announced the shock move to close their lists.

Labour is investigating what this means for patients but points to another example in Norfolk where existing patients were de-registered from a practice which was overstretched. One patient of Folkestone East Family Practice, Scarlett Rickard, said, “if you don’t have a GP you don’t have access to consultants, or even to the local walk-in centre. For people who have more intense care needs, and people who are deprived and struggling, I have no idea who we’ve got to turn to, except our local MP — and so far nothing has come from him.” Another patient of the practice told Labour, “it’s totally inconceivable that in a country like ours people could be left without a GP. It’s totally unacceptable.”

Labour has criticised local MP Damian Collins for his failure to tackle the crisis, despite promises made by health secretary Jeremy Hunt during the General Election campaign. On Saturday local Labour party members delivered a reminder of Mr Hunt’s letter to Mr Collins’ constituency office in the town.

Laura Davison, Folkestone and Hythe Labour candidate at the General Election said, “The letter from Jeremy Hunt issued during the general election campaign is very clear. It says that the Tories would not allow local people to be left without a GP and would make sure there is enough money to fund and improve GP services locally. Given the escalating crisis, local people might legitimately ask whether the Tories will just say anything to get into power and simply don’t care about what happens to sick and vulnerable people in their own constituency.”

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