Long-serving councillor 'deplores' proposed closure of Hartest GP surgery
PUBLISHED: 16:34 03 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:10 03 May 2018
Closing a Suffolk village’s only GP surgery would be “another nail in the coffin for rural communities”, a councillor has warned.
Richard Kemp said the people of Hartest would be “mortified” if the Melford Road practice is shut.
His comments come after bosses at Glemsford Surgery announced proposals to close the branch practice and consolidate resources at the main site due to GP recruitment problems, among other challenges.
Members of the public are encouraged to share their views before June 11 to help leaders decide whether to go ahead with the closure.
Mr Kemp, who has been county councillor for the area for 25 years, said: “Any reduction in any service in rural areas is to be regretted and I haven’t heard from the parish council or the people of Hartest but I’m fairly certain they will be very mortified if this goes ahead because it means another nail in the coffin for rural communities.
“I can appreciate there’s a shortage of GPs but I think it’s like anything, it’s a supply and demand situation, and I’m sure given a period of time the number of GPs will come back up – so my reaction is it’s a bit premature.”
He added: “The graph shows more and more people of an older disposition are living in rural communities who are not able to travel and quite frankly the public transport system is pretty hopeless – there’s hardly any buses in Hartest so I deplore any loss of any services in a rural community.”
Mr Kemp raised concerns about the possible loss of the pharmacy service at Hartest Branch Surgery.
Dr Matthew Piccaver, GP partner at Glemsford, has previously confirmed a new medication collection service would be introduced using the surgery van.
At the time, he said: “The closure of the Hartest Branch Surgery is not an easy decision.
“Whilst we appreciate that it has been viewed as an integral part of the local community for many years, we have to find a way to move forward to meet the needs of a growing practice population in the face of a national GP recruitment crisis.”
Dr Chris Browning, chairman of Hartest Parish Council, said councillors would be “very sad” to see the surgery go.
He added: “We are very fortunate to have had it for so long. Hartest has been a village with good facilities however we recognise the pressures on the surgery and the system as a whole and understand that change is inevitable.”