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1,500 patients without GP surgery as Folkestone East practice shuts its doors

PUBLISHED: 09:04 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:04 01 November 2017

Folkestone East Family Practice. Photo: Google

Folkestone East Family Practice. Photo: Google

Archant

The CCG has reallocated 3,208 out of 4,700 patients to other practices since the closure was announced earlier this year

Some 1,500 patients in Folkestone find themselves without a GP surgery today after a large practice in the seaside town shut its doors for good on Tuesday evening.

It was announced earlier this year that the Folkestone East practice would close, with the doctors based at the site moving to work from the Sandgate Road surgery from November 1.

As a result, some 4,700 patients had to be reallocated to a new practice, and while bosses at the clinical commissioning group (CCG) have successfully moved 3,208 people to alternative local practices, including 1,143 patients described as “vulnerable”, there are still almost 1,500 left in limbo.

As it continues the reallocation process, the CCG says it cannot guarantee patients the location of their new surgery won’t be further away, or who the individual GPs will be, only that it will ensure everyone continues to have ongoing registration with a local GP in Folkestone.

Furthermore, any former Folkestone East patient who has not yet been allocated to a GP will still be able to access services through any practice in the area, as an ‘immediate and necessary’ patient.

Practices will also benefit from a 50 per cent increase over the next 12 months in the funding per patient they receive, in order to help manage the transition of taking on additional patients.

GPs at seven local surgeries recently took the “unprecedented” action of applying to close its doors to new patients, though this was rejected by the CCG.

Doctors then warned last month that care provision in Folkestone could be set to “collapse completely” over the next year, with more than a third of the town’s doctors currently at retirement age.

The Concern for Health in East Kent campaign group also expressed worries this week, fearing the closure could pile more pressure on A&E departments at nearby hospitals.

Chair Ken Rogers said: “This additional blow for patients in east Kent, specifically Folkestone, again highlights how patients are being given an unacceptable level of health care.

“The management of our health services here is being shown over and over again to be inadequate.”

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins said: “All patients have to give their consent in order to be join a new surgery and it is important that those patients who are yet to respond to the CCG do so.

“The CCG is writing again to all of the patients on the Folkestone East list who are yet to be allocated a new GP, reminding them to complete their form and offering advice on how to access temporary GP care if required.

“The CCG is currently managing to process allocations within 24 hours, and is also dedicating resources to support this, including helping individual GP practices with registering new patients, commissioning an external provider to manage the administration process, hosting and staffing registration events, and investing in additional IT support and equipment to allow Folkestone East to transfer patient records and other information to the Sandgate Road surgery by their desired date.

“Technically deductions can only be made from the Folkestone East patient list once the receiving practices have completed the paperwork, so there may be patients who are already in the process of being transferred, but they are not yet recorded in the official figures as having been reallocated.

“The CCG also believes that around 700 of the patients who are yet to respond to the request that they select a practice they would like to be allocated to, maybe people who have moved away from the area, but not changed their GP registration.”

Mr Collins added that he was due to meet the CCG’s accountable officer, Hazel Carpenter, in parliament this week to discuss the process.

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