Future of Doctors Surgeries in West Malling and East Peckham

Published: 19 January 2018

The SurgeryMonday, 15 January, 2018 

We know the NHS is under great strain at the moment. While January always brings pressure on our health services, this year has seen the NHS have to cope with greater challenges than before. That has led to the cancellation of non-urgent operations, and longer waiting times in A+E, issues that affect all of us who rely on the health service.

I meet NHS bosses often to learn what can be done to help relieve pressures. One area that often comes up is primary care - ensuring people who need help get it early so conditions don’t escalate. That means maintaining the excellent GP network we have in West Kent.

That’s why I’ve been working to keep open the surgery in East Peckham. Sadly, after two years of struggle, and with the active support and determination of the Parish Council, we have not succeeded. The £250,000 we need to improve the existing surgery - or build a new one - is just too much. I’m disappointed that the Woodlands Health Centre in Paddock Wood hasn’t been willing to invest what is needed despite the Parish Council offering to pay nearly half. And I am now concerned for the patients who rely on it. I've enclosed the letter I have sent to the Clinical Commissioning Group last week and am hoping to speak with Ian Ayres this week.

For many it won’t have a great effect, the main surgery is just a few miles away, but for those with mobility difficulties and who don’t drive, the bus connections are poor. And though the pharmacy is excellent that’s no replacement. That’s why I’m calling for a dedicated link between East Peckham and the surgery. Without it the cost in taxis will be enormous or, worse, people will delay going to see their GP risking complications.

In West Malling there is a similar issue. By scaling back the services on the High Street more people will need to go to Kings Hill and Leybourne. Those surgeries are being improved, which is great, but those who find it harder to travel need the West Malling High Street as a hub for the whole area. I emphasised this point to the practice when I met then and encouraged them to keep the West Malling service viable. Again though, this is a topic of conversation for my call with the Clinical Commissioning Group because I'm concerned that while the NHS is undre great strain, we should not be reducing services in communities like West Malling unless there is an overriding reason that a better service can be provided elsewhere.

The achievements of our improved NHS mean people are living longer and healthier lives, that adds to pressures and demands more investment in areas like GP’s surgeries. I’m going to keep fighting to ensure everyone has easy access to their GP, no matter where they live.