Norfolk villagers lose fight to save Belton GP surgery

Campaigners have lost their battle to save a village GP surgery near Great Yarmouth from closure, after health chiefs said efforts to find an alternative had failed.

Campaigners have lost their battle to save a village GP surgery near Great Yarmouth from closure, after health chiefs said efforts to find an alternative had failed.

Bosses at NHS Norfolk and Waveney announced in February that Belton Surgery is not up to scratch and is likely to fail its next inspection by care watchdogs.

They said, with no cash to open a new surgery in the village, that its 1,200 patients will have to transfer three miles away to Millwood Surgery in Bradwell.

The proposal sparked anger in the village, with more than 100 people attending a public meeting over the move, with concerns raised that elderly people might struggle to get to Bradwell.

Calls were made for an alternative to be found, but NHS Norfolk and Waveney bosses today (Wednesday) announced they would be pressing ahead with the closure.

They said no option currently identified by the NHS or the community had been shown to be both affordable and provide a safe and proper environment for the treatment of patients, so the surgery will shut on June 1.

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They said patients registered with Dr Shelton and Partners will continue to be able to see their family doctor or practice nurse from the partnership's recently-upgraded Millwood surgery at Bradwell.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney has agreed with community representatives to continue exploring transport options for patients living in Belton.

Andrew Morgan, chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney said: 'We committed ourselves to working with patients and their council representatives to find a viable alternative to closing Belton branch surgery.

'We devoted considerable time and money to explore all the options available to us but regretfully none would provide a surgery in Belton which would comply with modern healthcare requirements, be affordable or provide value for public money.

'We know and understand that some people will be disappointed and we are sorry for this.

'We hope the community will understand that not only must NHS care be provided in an environment which meets current standards but the NHS budget is already very stretched; we have a rising population and ever increasing demands for health care.

'If we spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in Belton we would effectively have to cut spending on care elsewhere. It is a difficult and unpalatable decision but one which is ultimately right in the current economic climate.'

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk