Surgery services in Hopton are set to stop in January 2017 after a long battle to retain them in the north Suffolk village.
“The Hopton Surgery, in High Street, linked with the Stanton Surgery, is run by Dr Nick Redman and partners. Doubt was cast as to what will happen to the Hopton facility when former partner Dr Andrew Hassan retired last year, as it is run from his private house.
Following a review, partners at the surgery say the “only viable way forward” is to transfer all services to Stanton, with a “focus on improving its services there to serve all 4,900 patients.”
Dr and Mrs Hassan said they have “worked tirelessly” to try and accommodate the needs of a medical practice, which is also run from the Hopton site, and said dental surgery management and the Hassan family played “no part” in the decision not to proceed with a new premises.
In a statement issued today on behalf of the surgeries from the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, it is claimed the Stanton facility is experiencing “higher demand” due to an “expanding population” in surrounding villages and has outgrown its current premises, needing “a solution for its future.”
The statement added local GPs were committed and to ensuring “good access” and “safe care” to patients served at both surgeries, and were talking to community leaders about what solutions there are to migrate the change.
After the notice to vacate the premises in Hopton we have made every effort to secure alternative accommodation through the NHS route. Our latest application for funding did not meet NHS England’s stringent criteria for cost-effective use of public money, and, having explored these criteria in more detail with the help of NHS England, our sad conclusion is that a new surgery in Hopton will never be able to meet these criteriaDr Nick Redman
Dr Redman said the latest application for funding for a new Hopton facility did not meet NHS England criteria.
“Over the years our GPs and health care staff have worked really hard for people in the villages in and around Stanton and Hopton,” he said. “While we are pleased to be working towards providing improved services and facilities in Stanton, we are equally disappointed to have had to make the decision to stop operating services from Hopton.
“After the notice to vacate the premises in Hopton we have made every effort to secure alternative accommodation through the NHS route. Our latest application for funding did not meet NHS England’s stringent criteria for cost-effective use of public money, and, having explored these criteria in more detail with the help of NHS England, our sad conclusion is that a new surgery in Hopton will never be able to meet these criteria.
“As a small, rural GP practice, we do not have the financial resources to build two new facilities in both Stanton and Hopton.
“We are sorry that we will have to upset people, however, we will continue to consult with the community and our patients about other options and services that might help mitigate the change.
“By focusing services in Stanton, we will be able to better serve local people by offering better facilities.”
A statement on behalf of the dental surgery in response added: “The retirement of Dr Andrew Hassan and the subsequent relocation of the medical services to a purpose built site within the village had been in negotiation for over 8 years.
“Dr and Mrs Hassan (the owners of the premises) have worked tirelessly to try to accommodate the needs of the medical practice, securing planning permission to build an extension to the Avicenna site or offering to provide space within the current building using the staff common room as a medical consulting room.
“Other options which have recently been offered are a Portakabin in the surgery garden as a temporary measure whilst a permanent premises on the village hall site was being built, allowing the medical facilities to be continued in Hopton. All these options have been rejected by the partners of the medical practice.
“The expansion of the dental surgery has been in the planning for 5 years and the medical partners were aware of the need to find new premises since 2013.
“Dr Hassan has spent his entire career ensuring the medical practice set up by his father in the 1960s has grown from strength to strength and provided Hopton and surrounding villages with high quality, well-run GP services. It is unfortunate that the current partners are unable to continue this provision in Hopton.
“However, Hopton Dental Surgery management and The Hassan Family would like to reiterate that they have played no part in the decision not to proceed with new premises, and are very keen to see medical services continue in Hopton.”
In March 2015 a 1,000 signature-strong petition proposing to keep GP services in Hopton was presented to West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock.
There had been hope that the proposed Hopton South development could have provided a new surgery, along with new homes and a village hall. The development brief was adopted by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in November.
But in December services on offer at Hopton Surgery were reduced to practice nurse, health care assistant and phlebotomist, owed to dental surgery renovation and maintenance work. Hopton Parish Council subsequently wrote to associate practice manager Rob Freeman, calling for the suspended services to be reinstated.