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Surgery at centre of Folkestone GP crisis says NHS has cut list of vulnerable patients in urgent need of new doctor

By Matt Leclere

Half of vulnerable patients registered with the surgery at the centre of Folkestone’s GP crisis were cut from a priority list by NHS bosses given to them by doctors.

Doctors at the closing Folkestone East Family Practice identified 2,320 patients they deemed needed transferring to a new GP urgently.

They included people with potential serious health risks such as heart failure, alcoholics and drug addicts and people at risk due to struggles in caring for themselves and young children.

Stock picture of GP in a surgery with patient
Stock picture of GP in a surgery with patient

But the South Kent Coast CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) asked doctors to slash the number by half, which the practice refused to do.

It has now been revealed the original list of 2,320 people has been reduced to just 1,143 with the CCG allocating all those patients with new doctors elsewhere in Folkestone.

Doctors say they are now in the dark over the number of patients they considered to be vulnerable who have been left to register with a new surgery themselves.

In a statement, doctors said: “We do not know how many of the 1,177 patients the CCG removed from the vulnerability list have managed to register with a new surgery themselves, or have done this with the help of friends, relatives or carers.

“We do know the patients removed from the vulnerability list included those with some of the following risks; heart failure, children under two, alcohol or class one drug addiction, poorly controlled diabetics and other groups we felt should be included, due to the risks to themselves.”

Folkestone East Family Practice
Folkestone East Family Practice

“We are concerned for all our patients who have not yet registered with a new GP but are particularly worried about those we consider vulnerable and not able to properly care for their own welfare.

“If anyone is aware of a patient registered with Folkestone East Family Practice, who has not managed to register with a new surgery, please do all you can to help them to do this.”

The Dover Road practice had around 4,700 patients registered but more than 2,000 people are yet to be allocated a new GP less than a week before the surgery’s closure, next Tuesday.

It is understood of the 2,570 people who have been allocated, there are only 750 people transferred and registered with their new GP.

The Folkestone East Family Practice is closing on October 31 due to overstretched services and concerns over providing safe care and was forced to hand its contract back.

The CCG is overseeing patient transfers to new GPs elsewhere in Folkestone.

But seven out of eight surgeries in the town say they cannot safely take any more patients because they are 16 full-time doctors short.

The GPs from the surgeries - Central, Guildhall Street, Hawkinge and Elham, Manor Clinic, The New Surgery, Park Farm and Sandgate Road - applied to formally close their lists, which was rejected by the CCG.

The CCG has been approached to comment.

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