Published: 15:38, 15 August 2018
Residents in Eastry may be forced to descend on Sandwich to access healthcare after a proposal to shut the village surgery has been announced.
Posters in the village have this week revealed the plans to merge the High Street surgery with the recently extended Market Place practice in neighbouring Sandwich.
The redesign which is in response to recruitment challenges and the current NHS drive for practises to come together will mean up to 3,000 patients would have to travel an extra four miles to access a doctor.
It is feared the change will not only prove difficult for elderly residents who rely on public transport but will also have a knock on effect on businesses in the village.
Chairwoman of Eastry Neighbourhood Watch, Sheila Smith, said: "We've got a lot in Eastry, a butcher, hairdressers, chemists, chiropodist and Post Office.
"There's not much we can't offer people but if you take one element away, such a major element like a doctors surgery, it will affect everything else.
"We stand to lose an awful lot."
John Waring, 82, of Woodnesborough Lane, and his wife Cynthia and family have used the surgery for decades.
He said: "There's going to be a hell of a problem.
"Already if you ring up, you can never get through. Very often you have to wait many days often week to see the doctor you want to see. This is aside from the fact they're going to build a lot more houses in Eastry.
"What will happen to the older people who go there for weekly Warfarin checks and specialist surgeries?"
Glynn Rees said: "How are the growing numbers of older residents going to readily get to the Sandwich surgery, when lengthy telephone delays already occur at opening times and many do not have their own transport?"
He is also concerned that patients would have to pay to park in Sandwich which they don't have to in Eastry.
Both chairman of Eastry Parish Council Nick Kenton and Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke are backing residents' fight to keep the surgery.
Mr Kenton said: "The parish council is against this. The loss of services in a village like Eastry is not to be taken lightly and residents will have our full support."
Mr Elphicke said: “Eastry is a large village and needs its own doctors surgery. The Practice’s management needs to urgently reconsider these plans – and keep Eastry Surgery open.”
A mission statement printed on the posters put around the village state: "We believe that in order to deliver the Five Year Forward View in line with the Sustainability and Transformation Plan for Kent and Medway, we need to consolidate onto one site and provide a comprehensive service for the benefit of all out patients.
"This will secure the future of primary care in Sandwich and surrounding villages, and provide an attractive and dynamic place for doctors and staff to work in serving our patients."
Residents are invited to have their say at two lunchtime roadshow events with doctors and staff about how the consolidation of the two practises.
They will be at Eastry Surgery on Friday, August 31 from 1pm until 2pm and at Market Place Surgery on Tuesday, September 4 from 1pm until 2pm.
There will also be two public meetings, both held in Eastry Village Hall on Thursday, August 23 from 1pm until 2pm and another on Tuesday, September 4 from 7pm until 8pm.