Published: 00:01, 08 September 2017
Patients are being left “hanging” over the future of GP services in Folkestone with urgent concerns still needing to be addressed.
That is the warning from Labour who predict a “catastrophic failure” in the system ahead of 5,000 patients being transferred to new GPs when the Folkestone East Family Practice closes.
Doctors announced in May they would be handing the contract for the Dover Road clinic back to the NHS and will close from November 1, plunging GP services in the town into crisis.
KentOnline understands future arrangements being drawn up for patients from the Folkestone East practice are expected to be published imminently by the NHS but Laura Davison, Labour’s candidate for Folkestone and Hythe in June’s general election, said allocating more patients to already overstretched practices “will put people’s safety at risk”.
Patient groups have also raised concerns about a lack of “sufficient extra funding” but the NHS said funding details have not yet been confirmed.
It is believed patients will be redistributed and allocated to the eight other GP surgeries in the town.
Ms Davison added: “Despite constant reassurances to patients that they don’t need to do anything, the reality is we are facing a catastrophic failure of the local GP system.
“The NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) and doctors’ surgeries are wrangling over money, patients are left hanging and have no idea who will provide their future care.
“The recruitment crisis means that other surgeries in the town are already overstretched. Doctors say that allocating more patients to these practices will put people’s safety at risk, which affects everyone registered with a GP in the town.”
Ms Davison claimed a patient was recently told their surgery was not taking routine appointments for the whole of October.
She also called on the CCG for “transparency and information about the crisis to be provided to all patients”.
"We are facing a catastrophic failure of the local GP system..." - Laura Davison
Problems surrounding GP services in the town have been blamed on difficulties recruiting enough new doctors, with those reaching retirement not being replaced.
Safety fears are being raised as some surgeries report upwards of 3,000 patients per GP. Guidelines state the ratio should be nearer to 1,800 per GP.
A financial analysis and blueprint for the future of GP services for all the practices in Folkestone is being finalised by the NHS in the coming days.
Administrators met last month to make a decision on how patients from the Folkestone East practice would be cared for.
The South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) primary care commissioning committee sat down to discuss contract terms and financial details of the new plan in August.
Rob Hustwayte, spokesman for the CCG, said the meeting was to “consider a range of options concerning the future of Folkestone East Family Practice”.
He added: “The CCG is now working to finalise a solution that will ensure affected patients are able to access local GP services after November 1, 2017.
“We will be writing to affected patients and other stakeholders in the next few days to confirm these arrangements. We understand this continues to be an unsettling time for patients and assure people we are working hard to secure the best possible outcome.”
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