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Patients forced to queue outside as Church Lane Surgery, New Romney, overwhelmed

Patients are having to form queues outside a doctor’s surgery because it is so overwhelmed.

The Church Lane site in New Romney has been under strain since Dymchurch Surgery in Orgarswick Avenue closed last month.

Cllr Clifford Butler told a meeting of New Romney Town Council on Monday: “The closure of Dymchurch Surgery together with the projected increase in houses being constructed to something in the region of 450 is beginning to place a lot of pressure on the two remaining surgeries in New Romney.

Church Lane Surgery, New Romney. Picture: Gary Browne
Church Lane Surgery, New Romney. Picture: Gary Browne

“This is together with a difficulty of retaining salaried GPs and having to rely on locums at something in the order of £600 a day.

“It is not unusual to see queues forming at 7.30am outside the Church Lane surgery so that people needing treatment could gain appointments to be seen.

“I find the situation quite frightening.”

Cllr Butler, who says there can be queues of 20 people, was reporting to colleagues after attending an NHS South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group meeting on November 11 at The Grand in Folkestone.

Cllr Butler said an ambulance station was needed in Romney Marsh and the New Romney Clinic at Station Road should be upgraded.

He said: “This is so that patients needing regular treatment do not have to traipse all the way to Ashford or Canterbury either by car or bus.

Clifford Butler had to wait over an hour for an ambulance. Picture: Sam Lennon
Clifford Butler had to wait over an hour for an ambulance. Picture: Sam Lennon

“Could it not be seen as a useful asset, which would hopefully lighten the load from nearby hospitals?”

Cllr David Evans, who had been at the same meeting, added: “They are building a purpose-built ambulance station at Sevington in Ashford.

“If they build one there why not New Romney? I was told it is down to the cost and because there are more people in Ashford.”

Mayor of New Romney Cllr Patricia Rolfe said: “We cannot encourage future housing, bringing more people in, if we are being swamped.

“We have a great strain on resources and this will cost lives unless we do something.“

Cllr Butler later confirmed to the Express that there had already been queues outside Church Lane occasionally while Dymchurch Surgery was open but much more frequently since the closure.

Cllr Butler himself had to wait for an hour for an ambulance after suffering an arterial bleed to his right hand in an accident.

He had been cut by sharp steel banding while handling a packing case in May 2014.

He joined the town council in September to help the campaign for better health care provision on the Marsh.

Patients were queuing out the door. Picture: Gary Browne
Patients were queuing out the door. Picture: Gary Browne

GPs in Romney Marsh had been bracing themselves for an influx of thousands of patients after the Dymchurch Surgery closed on November 1.

It closed after senior partner Dr Robert Cullen retired and a replacement could not be found.

Villagers were able to transfer to Church Lane or register with Dymchurch’s Martello Medical Practice in Chapel Road.

A report by New Romney Town Council in September said there were waiting times of up to three weeks at Church Lane.

The Express was awaiting comments from Church Lane Surgery management but a spokesman for NHS England said: “Our priority was to ensure all Dymchurch Surgery patients had ongoing access to local GP services after October 31.

“We consulted widely with patients, other local GPs and stakeholders and took their views in consideration when coming to our decision.

“Church Lane Surgery and other local surgeries in Dymchurch confirmed that they had capacity to take on extra patients.”

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