Published: 00:01, 07 November 2017
Thousands of patients at one of Herne Bay's busiest GP surgeries will be transferred to a newly-formed joint practice in the new year as part of a merger.
Letters have been sent out to households registered with Coach House Surgery informing them that from January 1 their appointments will be held at Park Surgery, at its practice in King’s Road, or at Herne and Broomfield Surgery, which is in partnership with Park.
The Coach House building in Canterbury Road, owned by three GPs, is being sold and will no longer being used as a surgery.
Health bosses say the merger is a result of changes at the practice, including two doctors retiring, which left just one doctor for 5,000 patients.
It has recently being relying on locums to fill the gap.
Some patients have reacted with sadness over the closure, while others hope it will mean a better service.
Julie Willows wrote on Facebook, saying it is not good news to see any surgeries closing.
“It will put added pressure on the others that are already stretched and with all the new developments taking place and planned we need more surgeries opening not closing,” she said.
Cris Roe Cosh questioned how they are going to cater for another few thousands patients.
“It’s difficult enough getting an appointment with the patients they already have.
“Yes, they need to clamp down on time wasters if there are some. But everyone, whatever their ailment, it’s urgent to them.
“I rarely go but when I do it’s because I need help that day, not ring up the next day and hope there’s a space.”
NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says appointments, treatments and prescriptions will still be available at Coach House until the merger has taken place.
In a letter to patients, health bosses said: “There have been a number of recent changes which now mean there is one permanent GP remaining at the practice for 5,000 patients.
“Both the practice and CCG recognise the inconvenience and uncertainty this may have caused and we have been looking at the long-term future.
"It's difficult enough getting an appointment with the patients they already have" - Cris Roe Cosh
“A number of options have been considered by Coach House, other local Herne Bay practices and the CCG to ensure patients continue to receive high-quality health care.
“The preferred option is for Coach House Surgery and Park Surgery to merge and become one single practice covering the same boundary area as the former two practices.”
Medical and office staff will be staying on in the new merged practice to add to the 14 doctors and eight nurses that currently work at Park Surgery and Herne and Broomfield.
Alex McNally, spokesman for the CCG, says by merging, the practices will be able to share clinical experience and resources for the benefit of patients.
“Coach House patients will be able to benefit from access to a wider range of clinical services along with increased accessibility to appointments,” he said.
“Patients do not need to do anything as they will automatically be transferred to the new practice.”
Drop-in sessions are being held at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital on Thursday, November 9, and Tuesday, November 21, from 3pm to 6pm, for patients wanting to discuss the changes.
They can also call 03000 425019, option one, with any other questions.
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