Attending the Harmoni meeting in the Memorial Hall, Newmarket, on January 31 to follow up on the closure of the Newmarket Hospital base, which has resulted in patients travelling to Mildenhall/Haverhill for out-of-hours doctors appointments, we were met with the following:
Arriving at about 4.30pm we found a series of display boards, with graphs, and noted that there had been an increase in patient home visits in the Newmarket area.
The figures quoted for excellent/good service seemed misleading.
Although there were very few members of the public in attendance, the two we spoke to were about to leave because they had waited so long to speak to a representative.
We then attempted to speak to a member of staff from Harmoni, only to find that two doctors and the service manager were packing up and leaving. This left two receptionists, a PR lady and the call centre manager who was also preparing to leave.
We overheard her say to the PR lady: “If I go, you will be left all on your own.”
We then approached her and asked where everyone was. She said: “I am here, I may have my coat on, but my handbag is over there.”
We asked some pertinent questions, including if there were any problems with patients going to Mildenhall for appointments and not finding a doctor present.
We were informed that she only knew of one incident.
However, this she qualified saying, that she would only be aware of complaints going through the call centre.
When questioning why all the other staff had gone, she said “there had been an emergency half an hour ago, and they all had to go back to Ipswich”.
This was at about 4.45pm; the meeting was not due to close until 6pm.
It was a shame that more people had not attended, but must assume from the replies and reaction that we received, that this meeting was a “tick box” exercise.
It looks like we are unlikely to see the Newmarket Hospital base re-opened.
We are left wondering whether our local GPs are aware of the situations faced by their patients when their surgeries are closed and they need medical help.
Newmarket is once again the Cinderella of West Suffolk, its population is increasing, its town centre is declining, and the market is decimated.
Who is fighting for our services?
June Barham & Barbara Wisbey