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Patients queue outside Albion Place Medical Centre in Maidstone before its 8am opening

Patients at an under-pressure Maidstone doctor's surgery are regularly queuing outside the building before it even opens to ensure they are seen by health professionals.

A dozen people were seen waiting patiently in the vestibule by the front of Albion Place Medical Practice on Monday morning before its doors opened at 8am.

NHS figures show the surgery, located off the A249, has just one permanent GP serving some 11,000 patients, though plans are in place to bolster staffing numbers in the new year.

Those queuing outside Albion Place explained how they are often seen by nurses and even paramedics instead of a doctor and how having to make an early start in the queue was becoming an increasingly common occurrence.

Jason Heasman had an appointment scheduled for last Friday, but was told the surgery was too busy and to come back again on Monday.

The 49-year-old said: “It completely depends on whether you have an appointment, and even then you can be waiting 20 or 30 minutes.

“I’ve been coming here for two or three years and you see queues outside like this most mornings - it probably has got worse recently as well.

Patients queuing outside Albion Place Medical Practice, Maidstone
Patients queuing outside Albion Place Medical Practice, Maidstone

“Having said that, I’ve had a good experience with the paramedics, everything is always double-checked.

“I think they need more help, and permanent doctors would be a good start, they use a lot of locums.”

Another patient added: “I’ve always thought it’s best to get here as early as possible, because you just don’t know how long it will take to be seen, even in a bit of an emergency situation.

“I think the staff are trying their best but it doesn’t seem like they’re getting the help and support they really need.”

Practice manager Deepa Robin explained how changes have been made to try and accommodate the seemingly growing numbers of people waiting, including opening up the 'resting area' so patients don't have to queue in the cold and wet.

She added how another full-time GP was joining next month, alongside the existing doctor, the locum employed two days a week, advanced nurse practitioners and a prescribing pharmacist.

"Sometimes the GP is kept for dealing with serious illness, but patients can be seen by the nurses and paramedics who are equally qualified," she said.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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