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Folkestone GP shortage worsens as doctors retire at Cheriton's White House Surgery

By Sean Axtell

Anxiety is growing among those on Cheriton’s White House Surgery’s books, which treats some 10,000 patients, after it was revealed the full-time doctors who have practised there for about 10 years will step down next month.

Their retirement comes as Folkestone East Practice in Dover Road closes – triggering uncertainty for some 5,000 other patients.

Thousands of patients will be affected. Library image.

Thousands of patients will be affected. Library image.

It is believed the surgery’s patients will this month be allocated to the eight other GP surgeries in the town, including the White House Surgery.

Meanwhile, newly-qualified GPs will be offered a £20,000 “golden hello” to take up posts in areas where practices are struggling to recruit doctors, Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said last week.

A letter sent to White House Surgery patients said Dr Pia Holwerda and Dr Nicholas Morley-Smith will hand over the service to Dr Chee Mah in December, who they deem “the safest pair of GP hands”.

White House surgery in Cheriton, where two GPs have announced their retirement

White House surgery in Cheriton, where two GPs have announced their retirement

The letter asks concerned patients not to call the surgery, based in High Street, because it will jam telephones lines and hinder people’s healthcare.

It says: “We would like to share with you some local changes at the White House Surgery over the next few months.

“As a lot of patients will be aware, both of these doctors have been GP Partners at the White House Surgery for many years.

“Over the last few years, they have been particularly looking for suitable individuals, who they can hand the White House Surgery on to so there remains an open GP surgery in Cheriton.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt

“It has not been easy to find committed younger doctors, who are willing to step forward and take on the responsibility of a surgery.

“Dr Holwerda and Dr Morley-Smith would like to reassure patients that they do both feel that Dr Mah is the 'safest pair of GP hands' available to meet the challenges of today’s (and tomorrow’s) NHS.”

But as Folkestone’s deepening GP shortage unfolds, the government has been hammering out ideas to tackle recruitment issues and take pressure off the crisis crippling GP services.

We contacted the White House Surgery for comment but none was received.

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