A Haverhill woman says patients need more information about how GP services – including appointment waiting times – will be affected if two town surgeries merge.
Mary Dunning, a former town councillor, has written to MP Matthew Hancock and town councillors urging them to find out more about a potential merger plan for Stourview practice and Dr Selby and Partners’ Christmas Maltings surgery.
She said she wants answers about the effect it will have on the time it will take to see a GP, how it will affect the out-of-hours services, what possible reductions will there be in staff numbers and what will happen to Stourview if it goes ahead.
Mrs Dunning, from Abbotts Road, who is a Stourview patient, put her questions directly to councillors during the public forum at the council meeting on Tuesday night.
She said she was moved to urge councillors to react because the two surgeries cover more than half the population of Haverhill.
“I feel patients needed to know how this move would affect them. All we have got at the moment is one tenth of the picture.
“I rang my surgery and they told me they have between 3,000 and 4,000 patients. Christmas Maltings I’m told has 11,000 patients.
“When you add those figures up, they are serving over half the population of Haverhill.
“Questions need to be asked now. I feel the public should be consulted.”
Mrs Dunning said she was “cross” about the lack of information and had been motivated to write to her local MP and Haverhill town councillors because she wanted to know their views and what they intended to to to represent the patients in the town.
She said: “NHS England denied Stourview surgery would close.
“I have spoken to my surgery about the denial of closure and it would appear to be a very nice way of avoiding what is happening.
“Stourview has only one GP and cannot cope. Therefore it will merge with Christmas Maltings later in the year.
“How this will occur is one of two notions: the surgery will move to Christmas Maltings and Stourview surgery will be used as a possible clinic, or a GP will move to Stourview.
“It takes weeks to see a GP now, without any mergers of surgeries. Once this merger has happened, will this time be increased?
“Will I have to plan my illnesses in the future and book ahead to get an appointment?
“I want to ensure that people get a good, quality service in Haverhill. It’s a reflection on the system – not on the staff.”
After Mrs Dunning addressed councillors, Cllr Roger André said: “There is a combined group of town councillors working on health care and this is an issue we should be looking at urgently.”