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Fight to save village GP surgery

PUBLISHED: 23:21 07 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

A HEALTH watchdog is opposed to the closure of a rural doctor's surgery and has vowed to fight to keep it open.

The Constable Country Medical Practice wants to close down its outdated cramped Dedham surgery and transfer patients to a state-of-the-art modern medical centre being built in East Bergholt.

A HEALTH watchdog is opposed to the closure of a rural doctor's surgery and has vowed to fight to keep it open.

The Constable Country Medical Practice wants to close down its outdated cramped Dedham surgery and transfer patients to a state-of-the-art modern medical centre being built in East Bergholt.

But Dedham villagers do not want their surgery closed and are campaigning to keep it open.

This week North East Essex Community Health Council added their backing to the villagers'campaign, when it decided to oppose the proposed closure.

The CHC has also agreed to appeal to the Secretary of State for Health if Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust decides to close down the surgery.

Joan Smith, chief officer of the CHC, said: "We hope when the Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust board meet they take full notice of all the comments that have been made and that they take account of the feeling that the surgery should remain open."

The Dedham surgery is a converted ground-floor council flat which has one consulting room and no disabled access. Only one doctor is able to work there at a time. There is no room for a doctor and nurse to work together. There is no room for a stretcher, should a patient collapse and need to be taken out.

Dr Gareth Richards, of Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust, said an assessment of the surgery carried out by an independent doctor found it was not acceptable for clinical practice.

He said the PCT will meet at the end of the month to decide either to close down the surgery altogether; to keep it open until a more suitable premises in Dedham is found; or to keep the status quo.

About 1,300 patients use the surgery, which has been there for 30 years. The East Bergholt clinic is four-and-a-half miles away. There is another GP practice one-and-a-half miles away in Ardleigh.

Dr Richards said: "I can understand people's anguish at losing what they consider to be a good service from Dedham, but it isn't as good a service as it should be."


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