Patients of Wainfleet’s under-threat surgery have mounted a campaign in a bid to prevent its permanent closure.
Spearheaded by Rebecca Close, 33, and her mum Julia, protesters gathered outside the surgery on Friday to show their opposition to shutting its doors for good.
The surgery, in William Way, closed in November following a review by the Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which raised concerns about patient safety and acted immediately to suspend its registration for three months.
The surgery is now set to close for good following the announcement of the partners decision to retire.
But Rebecca, who attended the first public consultation session at the Methodist Church on the future of patient care in Wainfleet, was disappointed with its organisation and said it was nothing more than a ‘listening event’.
She said: “I felt we were going round in circles. At the end of the consultation people felt disheartened and deflated.
“There were no answers to any of the concerns people had and yet these concerns were very similar – transport, distance, number of patients, elderly residents, disabled residents, young families, what will happen in the summer months. Everybody just wanted answers.
“Why is the surgery shutting, why can’t it be opened under a different team?”
The closure of the surgery affects more than 2,000 patients who have now had to register as temporary patients at surgeries outside Wainfleet, which are already said to be oversubscribed.
She added: “My mother lives in Wainfleet and she is severely sight impaired and registered blind. For my mum to have to travel to another surgery, Hawthorn Surgery (in Skegness) for example, where we are currently temporary patients is near impossible.
“Patients, new and existing are trying to get through on the phone lines for hours to secure appointments only to be left disappointed and this is from the moment the phone lines open at 8am.
“This is just the start of things to come.
“Look forward six months or so when the holiday season kicks in, it will be chaos. Goodness only knows what will happen when the next season hits and Skegness is full of holidaymakers. The surgeries will be massively overstretched. This will then impact on the drop-in health centre and then A&E. I really hope common sense prevails and the people that really matter will be at the root of any decision made.”
Rebecca has started a social media campaign called Save Our Surgery Wainfleet on Facebook.
She has also called on MP for Boston and Skegness Matt Warman to support the fight and he attended the campaign on Friday.
Mr Warman said: “It’s not acceptable to ask vulnerable people who are elderly, very young or without transport for instance, to get on a bus and go somewhere else. We need to have similar level of services to what we had.
“People had lots of questions about where we are and what are we going to do next.
“The CCGs role is to work out what we need to do to provide healthcare that works for Wainfleet and is sustainable - the budget is exactly the same as it was, it’s about saying we did have this contract and we now have to find people to run the same or a similar contract.
“It might be that another, larger provider, can take it on and run it satellite, or as part of a federation of services.”
Tracy Pilcher, chief nurse at Lincolnshire East CCG, said: “We understand that this is a worrying time for patients in Wainfleet and the surrounding area, and would like to reassure people that we are committed to ensuring they can access high quality GP services locally.
“We will do everything possible to answer people’s questions and alleviate their worries, and the engagement events and survey responses will feed into our process as we consider the options for provision of GP services locally.
“Patient safety and providing a high quality and sustainable GP service for our patients in Skegness and across the CCG is our overriding concern. We know that many Wainfleet patients have moved to Hawthorn Medical Practice over the last few weeks and we are working to ensure that they can continue to access GP services there. Alongside this we also need to understand the views and concerns of those patients that, for whatever reason, have not moved to Hawthorn.
“We will continue to work towards finding a solution to address the needs of Wainfleet patients, allowing for a high quality GP service, and we will keep communicating with patients to keep them informed of developments.”
The CCG has also developed a short survey for patients to complete, which is available as a hard copy from Wainfleet Surgery, or via https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SCRZZC2