Blakeney Surgery will close, NHS bosses confirm

Blakeney surgery
The surgery currently runs a medication collection hub five mornings a week [AFP]

A GP surgery on a rural stretch of coastline will permanently close after the decision was approved by the NHS.

Holt Medical Practice applied to NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) to shut Blakeney Surgery due to its age and running costs.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said Tuesday's decision has caused "great, great upset".

The ICB said it knew the result would be "a disappointment to some Blakeney residents".

Holt Medical Practice said the branch building was no longer fit for purpose and needed modernisation work totalling £116,000, while running costs had risen by 20%.

Blakeney Surgery closed temporarily in March 2020 during the pandemic and has not offered face-to-face clinical services since.

A drop-in reception and medication collection hub operate five mornings a week, while patients travel to Melton Constable or Holt for their appointments.

Duncan Baker
Duncan Baker MP says closing the branch surgery is the wrong move [Andrew Sinclair/BBC]

Mr Baker was one of 10 representatives - which included district and parish councillors - to address the ICB meeting about the surgery, said to serve almost 2,000 people.

"As the MP representing people who are vulnerable and elderly in a very rural area of the north Norfolk coast, it is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing," he said.

"[It is] at a moment in time when we're still repairing after the pandemic.

"I think it's the wrong decision and the ICB, I don't know how they can... think this is the right thing."

Local people have been campaigning against plans for a year, with 200 people attending a public meeting last August.

Blakeney has a population of about 700 but its surgery covers areas including Morston, Wiveton, Cley and Langham.

Villagers were concerned some patients could have to spend hours taking connecting buses to collect medicines from High Kelling.

Rosemary Thew
Rosemary Thew, chair of Blakeney Parish Council, said she was concerned about how people would cope after the closure of the Blakeney Surgery [AFP]

Chair of Blakeney Parish Council Rosemary Thew said it was a "major blow to this village" and was concerned about mitigation plans to provide healthcare.

"I would now like to move forward and talk to the practice properly about mitigation," she said.

"What we desperately need here is something that avoids us going to High Kelling to collect prescriptions."

Tracey Bleakley, chief executive officer at the ICB, said it recognised "this has been a challenging process" for all concerned.

"Working together with our health and care system partners, local people and communities, we remain committed to ensuring the provision of high-quality, sustainable primary care services for our local population," she said.

She added it would work with Holt Medical Practice to agree a closing date for Blakeney and make plans to create a local medicine collection service.

In the statement, Holt Medical Practice's partners said they were "pleased a decision has finally been reached".

They added: "We recognise this will be disappointing for some members of the local community, but we hope we can work together to ensure a smooth and successful transition."

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