Safety fears lead to surgery closure

DOCTORS closing down a village surgery are worried about the safety of staff working at the practice, it was revealed today.The GPs said health staff nationally were suffering increasing abuse and aggressive behaviour and a receptionist at Trimley surgery had been the victim of persistent harassment.

DOCTORS closing down a village surgery are worried about the safety of staff working at the practice, it was revealed today.

The GPs said health staff nationally were suffering increasing abuse and aggressive behaviour and a receptionist at Trimley surgery had been the victim of persistent harassment.

This has been distressing and unsettling for all the staff – with midwives, who often have to work alone at the surgery, particularly worried.

But Dr Anthony Davenport and Partners say the concerns over staff are not the only reasons for closing the surgery in High Road, Trimley St Mary.

Parish councillors in both Trimley St Martin and Trimley St Mary have made strong protests over the closure.

While both councils say they can understand the doctors' points, sent to them in a letter, they are deeply concerned about losing another community facility.

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They feel the surgery is of great benefit to elderly patients and stops them having to travel to Felixstowe.

But the practice management says there is "little activity" at the surgery, set up ten years ago as a satellite to the main Central Surgery in Hamilton Road.

Of patients seen, only 40 per cent were from the Trimleys – the rest from Felixstowe – and a significant percentage of those visited by car, not on foot.

There was also no longer a pharmacy in Trimley and so people had to travel to Felixstowe and Walton for their prescriptions.

Records now had to be kept on computer and this was not possible at Trimley and putting in a landline to the system at Central Surgery would be expensive.

"As a practice we are finding it increasingly difficult and uneconomic to continue with this service at Trimley," said practice manager Jennifer Molloy.

"The branch surgery is a building dating back to 1920 and is in need of significant internal and external work to maintain it.

"We have recently spent a considerable amount of money on ongoing maintenance but these costs are likely to escalate in the future, as more significant structural work will be needed."

Staffing was expensive, too, as a receptionist was required whenever a nurse or doctor was on duty but could do little work except book in patients.

"Another important issue is staff security while working at the branch and this is something the partners have been concerned about for some time," she added.

"Regrettably one of our receptions was recently a victim of persistent harassment while on her own at the branch surgery which she found distressing.

"It is hard to think of anyway to improve this situation and certainly it would not be possible to increase the level of staffing at the branch surgery as we feel we have only just enough reception staff to cope with all our commitments as it is," she said.

The surgery looks set to be converted back into a family house and the owners have also gained permission to build a house in the grounds.

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