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Haverhill patient fears ‘vast’ new estate will overwhelm pair of GP surgeries

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A Haverhill resident has questioned how the town’s NHS services will cope in the future and has called for someone to find a solution before it is too late.

John Edwards, from Augustus Close, spoke of his concerns following our front page story last week that both the Haverhill Family Practice and Unity Healthcare were disabling their online service when they were shut, due to unprecedented demand.

But John, who is on one of the surgery’s committees, said the problem for the two sites ran deeper than that and he said he could only see it getting worse.

Haverhill Family Practice. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Haverhill Family Practice. Picture by Mecha Morton.

“My main concern is that we have a vast estate being built on the north of the town, which we have known about for a good many years now, and there is no planning at all to account for the 5,000 or 6,000 more patients who will try to sign on in the town,” he said.

“We have the two surgeries and I know the family one has closed its books to new patients, so all we are left with is the other, and having gone to their meetings, that is running at 110 per cent already – so where are all the people going to go?”

John said he felt nearby towns, such as Sudbury and Newmarket, were better equipped with their NHS services, and though Haverhill was bigger than both, they were being left behind.

Unity Healthcare in Haverhill is said to be running at '110 per cent'.
Unity Healthcare in Haverhill is said to be running at '110 per cent'.

He said: “Booking an appointment with a nurse is a nightmare already. I need regular blood tests and normally I get an appointment for two or three week’s time, but the last time I rang up I was told it would be six weeks.

“If this carries on I see the town losing some of our doctors as they are not able to cope now.

“What will it be like for them when the new houses are occupied? I just feel this has not been looked at.”

In agreement with John, Haverhill Town Council’s Labour group delivered a statement to the Echo.

In it the group said: “We fully understand how hard pressed the town’s GPs are, especially as their patients begin to bring up health concerns that they have put on the back-burner during the pandemic. But many residents feel aggrieved that the NHS has failed to deliver the level of GP services that most other residents of West Suffolk still benefit from.”

In response to the concerns, a spokesman for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Both GP practices are doing a good job in delivering primary care services, with a range of health care professionals including GPs, nurses and nurse practitioners.

“We will continue to support them in meeting patient demand now and in the future.”

The Suffolk GP Federation was also approached for comment.

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