Last Friday I met with Cllrs David Monk and Jenny Hollingsbee the Leader and Deputy Leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, along with Dr Jonathan Bryant the Chair of the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to discuss the provision of GP services in our area. In particular, we discussed plans to improve the delivery of services from new facilities in Folkestone and the impact of the opening of the new medical school for east Kent this autumn, in terms of increasing the number of doctors training and working locally. I want to see GP services in Folkestone in particular based around new and larger facilities that offer a wider range of treatments, which could provide an alternative to a trip to hospital for all but the most major procedures. I hope we will hear more from the CCG about their plans for Folkestone in the coming months.
Many residents in Folkestone though will be aware that Dr Banik has decided to close the Park Farm surgery from 31st March this year. All patients registered at this practice will receive formal notification of this from the NHS within the next two weeks. This letter will also explain what steps they can take to register with another local GP practice. Every patient on the current list of the Park Surgery will be offered a choice of six alternative local GP practices. All of these surgeries have open lists and so can welcome new patients. There will be registration events organised by the CCG where local residents can find out more information about this. Any patient that does not apply to be included on the list of an alternative surgery will be automatically allocated to one, before the Park Farm practice closes. No-one will be left without access to GP services in Folkestone as a consequence of the closure of this surgery.
The NHS will also be allocating additional funds to the other Folkestone practices to support them during this transition. In fact, as a result of this even though Park Farm surgery is closing there will be more appointments at GP surgeries available in Folkestone as a whole. I understand that Dr Banik himself will be staying in the area, so there will not be a reduction in the number of GPs working locally. In fact, we have more doctors working in Folkestone and Hythe now than was the case three years ago.
If anyone who is affected by the closure of the Park Farm surgery has any concerns about the process of finding a new GP, please let me know and I will take this up directly with the CCG. Overall the closure of small practices like Park Farm provides the opportunity to upgrade our local GP services into larger buildings offering a greater range of services, with the economies of scale that come from the consolidation of some of the costs of running a medical practice. I hope we will see more progress in this regard during 2020.