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New hope in fight to save Harleston midwifery service

Wortwell, Norfolk. Lucie Oakes who's unhappy with the midwife service being withdrawn from the Harleston Medical Centre ANL-141217-163755001
Wortwell, Norfolk. Lucie Oakes who's unhappy with the midwife service being withdrawn from the Harleston Medical Centre ANL-141217-163755001

The manager at a medical practice in Harleston which has lost its midwifery service says she is committed to exploring “possible solutions to the situation.”

Midwives are no longer on duty at the Paddock Road Surgery, part of the Harleston Medical Practice, in Paddock Road.

Practice manager Maria Flood said certain restrictions under the lease had resulted in the withdrawal of this service.

She has stated the practice’s desire to expand its range of services including podiatry and physiotherapy, as well as midwifery.

A petition, which has gained more than 100 signatures, had been started by a group of residents in a bid to get the midwives back.

But a meeting was held at the practice, which included Mrs Flood, South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, various providers and councils, in a bid to discuss the provision of services in Harleston and the surrounding areas.

Mrs Flood said: “The purpose of the meeting was to facilitate a discussion by these individuals about the provision of community services to the residents of Harleston and the surrounding villages.

“Unfortunately, the way community services are commissioned by the NHS is not simple and this situation is certainly not unique to Harleston, neither is the solution in the Practice’s hands.

“The Practice feels strongly that the residents of Harleston deserve equality of services such as midwifery, podiatry and physiotherapy. We will be working with Mr Bacon, NHS England, service providers and other local bodies to find a solution to this decreasingly good use of resources.

“Those present at the meeting expressed a commitment to explore possible solutions to the situation. The Practice will meet again with Mr Bacon towards the end of this month to discuss NHS England’s Premises Directions, contractual issues and other factors prohibiting the most effective use of the Paddock Road surgery premises for community services.”

Mr Bacon said he was set to work with GPs and practice managers across his constituency in a bid to address the issue. “I fear that the NHS may have accidentally got itself into the position where its own efforts to improve things are actually causing more difficulties, higher costs and poorer service, and leaving GP surgeries to pick up the pieces,” he said. “I know that local doctors in Harleston as elsewhere want to provide the best possible service and to help their patients avoid unnecessary journeys. What’s more, as taxpayers we all want to see the best use of available resources and good value for money.

“I will be working with GPs and practice managers across South Norfolk to find solutions to the difficult contractual problems which GP surgeries such as Harleston Medical Practice and others are facing. I am sure NHS England will want to work with us find a sensible way forward. Everyone wants to see different parts of the NHS working more closely together to provide high quality services for patients.”

Lucie Oakes, from Wortwell, who has signed the petition and is pregnant with her second child, due next month, spoke out against the withdrawal of services in the Diss Express at the end of last year, having to travel 9 miles to Long Stratton for similar services. She said this week: “It is really good news.

“Hopefully they can have this meeting and realise that building can be used for something good.

“Last Monday (travelling to Long Stratton in the ice and snow) it was horrendous and it took more than 50 minutes to get there. So it has not been nice for me. “As far as I am concerned it has been an awful situation for me to drive down there. I thought it could have been a five minute drive down the road for me (to Harleston).”

Redenhall with Harleston Town Council chairman Barry Woods added: “The council would agree with the people that the best provisions of all the services we can get for Harleston we should have.

“We look at it from the point of view that we should have the best medical services we can have and where we can make an input to make it happen we will do it.”

To view the petition, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/get-our-midwives-back-in-harleston

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