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Six Dartford GP practices could move under new health hub plans

People living on the outskirts of Dartford may have to travel further to see their GP as six practices are set to move into the town centre.

This is part of a scheme by Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley clinical commissioning group (CCG) to build three seven-day integrated clinics in the area.

The CCG plans to close the six clinics and relocate the staff to a "health and wellness campus" at the old Co-op site.

Six surgeries could move as part of the plans. Stock image
Six surgeries could move as part of the plans. Stock image

The group claims the campus in Spital Street would become a one-stop shop for physical and mental health to alleviate the pressure on Darent Valley hospital.

While the chosen doctors' surgeries have not been disclosed, there are only two GP surgeries registered in the centre of town: Horsman's Place Surgery and Lowfield Medical Centre.

There are a further three practices based in Dartford West Health centre, so this means both Temple Hill and Pilgrims Way practices in the outskirts could be designated for closure.

Dartford Borough councillors will discuss the plans at the cabinet meeting this week.

In the report published ahead of the meeting, strategic director for DBC Sarah Martin wrote: “The CCG are looking to relocate six local GP Practices into the new facility, including those currently based at the Dartford West Health Centre and some town centre practices.

“Whilst this proposal would lead to some residents having to travel further to access primary care due to closures of existing, small scale GP surgeries, they will benefit from better and more holistic services provided at the new hub.”

Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG was placed under special financial measures last year.

To fund this joint venture with Kent County Council and DBC, the CCG has secured a grant of £2.7m from NHS England.

Stella Jones, spokesman for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG said: "The CCG, working with the five GP practices, secured £2.7m of Estate, Transformation, and Technology funding in 2016 to develop this hub.

"This funding will not be sufficient to deliver this type of hub fully and we are therefore undertaking feasibility studies to determine the size and affordability of this hub."

She added: "There is significant growth in the Dartford area and the GP practices that have currently expressed an interest in being part of this new hub are all in accommodation that has limited opportunities for expansion.

"This development would provide an opportunity for the GP practices to have increased capacity for their practices and enable improved integrated working as part of wider STP plans."

Speaking about the plans Dartford Labour leader Jonathon Hawkes said: “With thousands of new homes being built in Dartford we desperately need new GP surgeries to meet demand, so it’s disappointing to learn this proposal isn’t going to deliver that. The health hub will simply relocate existing practices.

"The Conservatives are supporting this plan, but there are questions that need answering. Why does the council believe it’s right that patients – many of which will be elderly – should now have to travel further to see their GP? How will the new hub be funded? Our CCG has been underfunded by the government and we’ve already seen one funding application turned down. It’s far from certain this proposal will go ahead if finances cannot be secured.

"I believe the literature released about this has been misleading. Telling residents they will be getting a new health facility while not mentioning it will only relocate existing practices is not being straight with people. We should be focused on delivering the extra capacity we need, not trying to spin an announcement into something it’s not.

"Dartford needs additional health facilities to meet the demands of our growing town. Instead we are seeing a Conservative government cutting funding to the NHS and a Conservative Council supporting a plan to close local GP practices.”

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