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Sarah Collings, Reporter
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
More than 4,000 patients in Camden have been left without a GP because of failures by the local NHS health authority, it is claimed.
Camden Road Practice, in Camden Road, Kentish Town, is due to close on April 13, but health campaigners claim only 700 of its 4,700 patients have found a new doctor.
Candy Udwin, chairman of the Camden branch of Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), said: “If you take out the Easter holiday, that leaves them with only about a fortnight before they are completely left in the lurch.”
The practice is closing because the lease on its building has run out and the private health company which runs the surgery, The Practice plc, says alternative premises could not be found.
Patients and campaigners fighting to keep the surgery open claim the health authority responsible, NHS North Central London, has not tried hard enough to find new premises or new GPs. But NHS North Central London said there are 19 GP practices within a mile of the surgery all open to new patients.
Despite this, it took Harriet Wichtowski phone calls to 10 surgeries before she found two that would take her.
She said: “It’s not as easy as they make out. Surgeries are reducing their catchment areas. For older people or those with a serious illness it’s really stressful to move and can make your condition worse.”
Dr Robert MacGibbon, a retired GP who began his career at Camden Road Practice, said the health body had “simply not looked at alternatives” and suggested the vacant site of the former James Wigg Practice in St Pancras Way as one alternative.
A spokesman for NHS North Central London said: “We are very sorry that we have been unable to renew the lease with the landlords at Camden Road Practice, despite a great deal of effort.
“However, we know that we have the capacity at other GP practices and want to do everything we can to make sure that patients’ transfer to a new GP is as easy as possible.”