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Belton residents continue to fight for village surgery

PUBLISHED: 17:08 30 March 2012

“WE will not give up,” was the resounding message from parishioners in Belton who are fighting to save their village surgery.

Community spirit was in full force as more than 100 people crammed into Moorland’s Primary School hall to air their views and receive answers from NHS chiefs at a public meeting on Tuesday.

Bosses at NHS Norfolk and Waveney say Belton Surgery is not up to scratch and there is no cash to open a new surgery in the village.

Therefore it plans for the 1,200 patients to be transferred three miles away to Millwood Surgery at Bradwell before it shuts its doors for the last time on June 6.

Concerns were raised at the meeting over the cost of travelling to Millwood, and if some of the older residents would be able make the journey.

Belton vicar, the Rev Rosie Bunn said: “My concern is for the elderly and how they are going to get to Millwood. Some older people can’t drive themselves and something has to be done.”

Residents suggested looking at other sites in the village and they were told that it would cost nearly £1m to repair and improve the current surgery which is unsuitable.

Andrew Morgan, chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: “I know the anxiety you are feeling. I promise that I will take these views away to see if there’s anything else we can do.”

He said the current building had been constructed for residential use. So the only option would be to demolish and rebuild it.

The chairman of the parish council, John Rudrum, asked the health bosses to allow more time for a working party to be formed and for consultations to continue.

But Mr Morgan said: “We can try but I am not bouncing into a 12-month agreement. I am happy to have a working party.”

A member of the public suggested the NHS were only concerned about the finances and said: “You don’t give a monkey’s about us.”

Mr Morgan replied: “We do give a monkey’s. We have been working on an option of trying to replace the surgery which is what I presumed you wanted.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for us to turn our faces against the NHS standards for care. We can only spend every pound once.”

The community even offered to work together to repair parts of the existing surgery.

Mr Rudrum added: “We will work with you if you will work with us. We need to achieve something.”

But Mr Morgan said he would continue too see if the board could come up with a “workable plan” and would not commit to a timescale.

Mr Rudrum said: “The people of Belton are more than a match for the PCT. We are not going to give up.”

The building is owned by Chris Racey, who bought the surgery in 1986 to save it from closure.

He is still landlord of the St John’s Road surgery building, and says he has no desire to end the lease - despite letting the building at less than the market rate.

Mr Racey said though the £504 per month lease has run out, the tenants have no obligation to leave.

But surgery managers have served notice on him, and he said if the surgery does not meet NHS standards it is only because managers have been “running it down” instead of investing in it.

Patients will remain registered with their original doctor, and NHS bosses are discussing public transport routes with the county council.

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