The events which led up to the closure of the Folkestone East Family Practice (FEFP) (pictured) was a realisation that the practice was struggling to cope with the volume of patients. The decision was taken to close the practice on the basis of patient safety and too few GP’s which placed intense pressure on the GP’s who remained. Despite advertising for over a year both in the UK and abroad FEFP did not receive a single application, according to information in the public domain.
So on the 1st Nov 2017, Folkestone East Family Practice did not and has not opened its doors again. At that time it had 4,824 patients on it books. By Dec 15th 2017, the figures had dropped to 1,783. So FEFP had managed to move 3,041 patients onto other surgeries books.
As you can see from the figures above, only two surgeries across Shepway have seen their figures decrease in patient numbers according to the data provided by NHS Digital. All the rest have increased, some quite dramatically according to the latest data available.
It is known that applications to close patient lists of seven surgeries were made to the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The surgeries were Central Surgery, Guildhall St Surgery, Hawkinge & Elham Surgery, Manor Clinic, The New Surgery, Park Farm Surgery and Sandgate Road Surgery. As the figures above demonstrate, all seven surgeries patient numbers have increased.
There is nothing on paper which states what is a safe level for GP’s to maintain their lists at, not for the sake of the Doctor for making their life easy, but for the sake and safety of the patients they serve. So Oaklands Health Centre in Hythe (pictured) who cater for 11,340 patients do so with four full time doctors and two part time doctors. Guildhall Surgery Folkestone have four GP’s and one trainee GP to cope with 8,656 patients. The Surgery Church Road Lyminge has two GP for 2710 patients and Oak Hall Surgery New Romney appear to have no full time Doctors working at the Surgery which serves 6007 patients, only locums.
It will no doubt take a court case to determine what a safe GP – Patient ratio is, but it would appear no Shepway surgery has the stomach for a fight with the CCG or the NHS. Promises of more money, reduction in workload and other titbits seem to placate the GP’s sufficiently while we the patients are no doubt put at ever increasing risk. Risk in this context means a risk: “that cannot sensibly be ignored having regard to the nature and gravity of the feared harm in the particular case”
In February 17 we spoke to three GPs from across the district and each of them said they and their colleagues were already “”seeing too many patients a day to be safe.”, so if numbers across the vast majority of surgeries have increased there is little chance that GP’s are seeing less patients.
We spoke to the same three GP’s again who identified the same issues, those being “chronic shortage of GPs”, “a crisis in recruitment and a reliance in some surgeries on locums.” All of them raised the issue of safety and said that the demand on general practice across the district is increasing and “the resources and workforce available to us are so lacking that individual GPs are currently seeing too many patients a day to be safe. And then at the end of a long day in clinic, we still have a mountain of paperwork to get through.” They also raised something new. All three GP’s independently of each other raised the issue of s106 money and how their practices had so far failed to receive any money whatsoever, for developments which had taken place and were to take place in their areas.
Back in 2015, NHS Property Services Ltd requested Section 106 health care contributions on behalf of NHS England for the Cockreed Lane Development (Pg 9/10) (pictured) where 300 dwellings were to be built within a mile of both Oak Hall and Church Lane Surgery. A contribution of £92,664 plus support for legal costs were sought from the developer. This figure was calculated as the cost per person needed to enhance healthcare needs within the NHS services locally. The question is, have either of the Surgeries mentioned received any of the £92,664?
What about the 250 homes at Sellindge to be developed by Taylor Wimpey. Was a contribution asked for by NHS Property Services Ltd, as there is a Surgery serving nearly 5,000 patients?
Have NHS Property Services Ltd asked for a contribution from Sir Roger De Haan and his much reduced development (pictured) – of 1000 homes?
And will NHS Property Services Ltd ask for a significant contribution from the Otterpool Park development as up to 12,0000 homes may well be built on the edge of Sellindge and have a major impact impact on healthcare in the district.
Back in 2015, s106 not reaching surgeries was a national issue and was raised by GPonline and Pulse, who claimed that NHS Property Services were failing to collect money owed from property developers, GP leaders claimed.
GP’s and their Patient Participation Groups (PPG), should watch for any development planned in their area. As soon as they are aware of any, it would be prudent and wise to inform NHS Property Services Ltd who can then submit a request to SDC for a contribution towards healthcare. If they fail to do this our local surgeries will not grow, and this starvation of cash, will harm us all. So it it urgently necessary to ensure that PPG’s and Surgery to become aware of the significance of planning so that their surgeries can receive their just contributions from developers.
Local GP’s have already requested that their list be closed due to safety reasons. If GP’s are not and do not receive the funding for development within their areas, soon they will be more unsafe and we, not the developers, will all pay the price for that. The first wealth is health.
The Shepwayvox Team