Surgery gets last minute reprieve

VILLAGERS are celebrating as health chiefs decided not to allow a surgery to close before further talks are held.More than 40 people attended a Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust public board meeting at Needham Market's community centre yesterday, as health chiefs met to discuss a request by the Constable Country Medical Practice to close their Dedham branch surgery.

VILLAGERS are celebrating as health chiefs decided not to allow a surgery to close before further talks are held.

More than 40 people attended a Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust public board meeting at Needham Market's community centre yesterday

, as health chiefs met to discuss a request by the Constable Country Medical Practice to close their Dedham branch surgery.

The practice argues that at Dedham the numbers of people using the branch is in decline. It believes a new medical centre at East Bergholt offers a wider range of medical services and the existing premises are inadequate because of health and safety, confidentiality and disability issues.


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It also argues it is hard to keep the service going because a partner's retirement and recruitment is difficult.

But patients want to keep a local service, arguing that many patients are aged over 60 and would have to negotiate the A12, many people do not have cars to get to East Bergholt and there are alternative sites in Dedham where a surgery could be placed.

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GP Dr Richard Poole, a partner with the country practice, told the board meeting that the Dedham surgery was a relic from the past with little change in 30 years and the GP there was trapped doing nursing and phlebotomy work rather than using his doctor's expertise.

He said they are desperately stretched across the whole practice, with two nurses leaving, but offered a "port of call'' service at Dedham as a compromise for basic clinical care such as blood pressure and pill checks and some follow up appointments.

There has also been a bid from local parish councils to the Countryside Agency for finance to provide transport to the East Bergholt Surgery.

But Christopher Garnett, Colchester borough councillor for Dedham and Langham, said: "There is an essential need for medical cover in Dedham which should not fall below what it has got now. Frankly the village could not ask for any better than the outcome of the meeting. We are all very keen to pursue a positive way forward.''

John Osborn, a patient and Dedham parish councillor, said his late wife had been treated by the practice and received excellent care. But he said he would not want patients having to make a difficult journey to East Bergholt at a time when they could be under a lot of stress.

Harper Brown, Chief Executive for the trust, said: "No change is not an option, we need to look at an alternative service and be flexible."

The board meeting resolved to establish a steering group with representatives including an expert, GP from outside the county and village representatives to consider a change in hours at Dedham branch and to find a way forward in the longer term.

Speaking after the meeting Brian Parrott, chairman of the trust, said: "The steering group will look for a solution which may be between a surgery as people recognise it and a different sort of service. The trust is not on one side or the other, we want to broker a way forward."

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