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East Peckham's doctors' surgery thrown lifeline by NHS England

A village doctors' surgery facing possible closure has been thrown a six-month lifeline.

Campaigners have been fighting to save the East Peckham Branch Surgery in Old Road, after a consultation on the future of the service was sent out last month.

Plans for it to be merged with Woodlands Health Centre in Paddock Wood received a backlash of opposition and with almost 200 official objections.

East Peckham Branch Surgery, Old Road
East Peckham Branch Surgery, Old Road

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat and East Peckham Parish Council were among those who challenged the plans.

In a letter sent to key stakeholders earlier today, Kent's NHS England boss David Selling said a decision would be postponed for six months, giving the parish council time to find a source of funding to bring the current premises up to scratch in order for the lease to be renewed.

An agreement must be in place by March 12.

He wrote: "It is with reluctance we find ourselves in the position, as it formally stands today, that we would have little option to accept the application to close as I understand there are no other alternative sites that the practice can identify.

"However, we note that East Peckham Parish Council is potentially offering to support the practice with the funding of improvements to get the premises into a condition whereby a new lease could be offered.

"Thus, NHS England would like to delay the process for close for up to six months."

The parish council and surgery will now enter discussions with the landlord in the hope of securing an extension to the lease.

Tom Tugendhat has fought to save the East Peckham surgery.
Tom Tugendhat has fought to save the East Peckham surgery.

Earlier this month Mr Tugendhat met with NHS officials and surgery bosses to discuss the plans.

The MP said: "Closure would affect the 1,500 patients registered at the practice, who would have to travel miles for appointments. This may mean waiting for the one bus an hour, which serves the village.

"The importance of services like this cannot be overestimated. Without them, our villages become dormitories and lose their character."

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