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Elderly and vulnerable patients punished by ‘outrageous’ Spearpoint surgery move, says report

Patients and councillors protesting against the move in June 2013. Patients and councillors protesting against the move in June 2013.

Friday, December 13, 2013
12:17 PM

An elderly man with dementia has to get an ambulance just to see his GP after the “outrageous” move of a Newbury Park surgery, a report has revealed.

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Healthwatch Redbridge found that the closure of Spearpoint GP Surgery was inconsiderate, badly organised, and has had a terrible impact on elderly, disabled and vulnerable patients.

The practice was moved from its premises in Aldborough Road North to King George Hospital, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, in June.

According to the report, most patients were left in the lurch with less than a week’s notice of the change and some said they were not told at all.

Cllr Ruth Clarke, who campaigned against the closure, called the report “absolutely damning”.

She added: “They agreed with exactly what we’ve always said – it’s a nightmare for patients to get there.”

The report found there was inadequate public transport to make the 1.5mile journey to King George Hospital, where parking is limited and costs money.

Before the move 90 per cent of patients walked to see their GP but only 11pc now make the journey on foot.

The report said in the worst cases, this is making people reluctant to go to the doctor and putting their health at risk.

An 85-year-old man who uses a wheelchair and suffers from dementia said: “After the move it’s very hard now to get there.

“Have to go by an ambulance as I cannot walk now, otherwise the doctor needs to do home visit.”

One woman described the parking charges at King George Hospital as “paying for the privilege to see a doctor” and another said she now has to spend around £10 a week getting her two ill children to their GP.

The only thing slightly better about the new premises was cleanliness, according to surveys.

Healthwatch Redbridge urged NHS England, which organised the move, to “understand the impact” on patients, give better consideration, notice, information and support on future moves and improve transport for Spearpoint patients.

But Cllr Clarke wants the surgery to be moved back to Newbury Park.

She said: “It’s all very well saying it’s too far away but someone had got to look at finding a new premises in Aldborough Hatch.”

A spokesman for NHS England said the recommendations would be “carefully considered”.

She added: “We acknowledge that the very short notice given of the relocation of the practice was not ideal, and have apologised for any inconvenience caused.

“This was due to a complex set of circumstances including major change in the NHS, the existing lease coming to an end, and delays in preparing the new site for the move.”

The spokesman said it was not possible to give the normal month’s notice and consultation because of the short notice decision.

Redbridge Council’s Dial-a-Ride service will be travelling to the new practice and increased bus services have been requested.

The report will be presented to the Redbridge Health Scrutiny Committee on January 24.

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