Agenda item

Opposition Business

Please note that the time allotted for Opposition Business is 30 minutes (Constitution Chapter 2, Section 3.7(d))


The following item of Opposition Business has been proposed by Cllr Dr V Holliday, seconded by Cllr E Vardy:


Closure of Blakeney Surgery


Blakeney Surgery, which is a branch surgery of Holt Medical Practice, serves the parishes of Blakeney, Cley, Kelling, Langham, Morston, Wiveton, Salthouse, Stiffkey & Cockthorpe, in all a population of 1954.


Holt Medical Practice proposes to close this surgery. Currently, it serves as a reception hub and a prescription drop off and medication pick up. Face to face appointments were withdrawn prior to Covid and never reinstated despite requests from parishioners


The local and wider community strongly objects to the proposed closure. For example, a public meeting with the practice was hugely oversubscribed, almost 900 have signed a petition at time of writing, and an online survey by Duncan Baker MP had 434 responses of which 99% were opposed to the closure, The major reason for objection is the difficulty patients will face in accessing health care.


If the Surgery closes, for residents of Blakeney and surrounding villages the nearest health care is at High Kelling (a 14 mile round trip), or Melton Constable (a 20 mile round trip). Those without a car, 20% in Blakeney from 2011 census data, face a 3 ½ hour round trip by bus to High Kelling (including a half mile walk) or a 5 ½ hour round trip to Melton. The local volunteer car service is at capacity and there is no local taxi firm.


Over 40% of Blakeney residents are over 65 and over a quarter of these live alone. Over a tenth of residents say their day-to-day activities are limited a lot, and 6% say they are in bad health (all from 2011 census data). How will these residents cope with a three, four- or five-hour bus journey with multiple changes? It is not just older residents. How could a young mother manage with two children in a pushchair?


Travel is similar or worse for residents in nearby villages. For Morston, which is 3 minutes by bus from Blakeney, it would be more than a 2 ½ hr round trip with four changes to High Kelling and it is not even possible to get to Melton. 


Closure will have an impact on health inequalities. Section 149 (Public Sector Equality Duty) of the Equality Act 2010 states that a public authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, remove or minimise disadvantages and take steps to meet the needs of persons who share a relevant protected characteristic, such as age and disability.

The National Health Service Act of 2006 states in Section 13G that “The Board must, in the exercise of its functions, have regard to the need to reduce inequalities between patients with respect to their ability to access health services.”


Closure of Blakeney Surgery would also go against four of the key principles of the NHS Constitution for England, namely:

1.    The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all;

2.    The patient will be at the heart of everything the NHS does;

3.    It is committed to providing the most effective, fair and sustainable use of finite resources; and

4.    The NHS is accountable to the public, communities and patients that it serves.

The NHS Constitution also pledges to ‘provide convenient, easy access to services.’

Finally, but equally importantly, closure of this branch surgery has a negative impact on North Norfolk District Council’s ambition of net zero. The carbon footprint of patients travelling from Blakeney and surrounding villages to High Kelling or Melton is calculated to be almost 55 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to almost 11 return trips from London to Sydney. This carbon footprint would need to be offset by planting more than 2000 trees annually, which would require more than 2 ½ acres of land per year.


We propose Council resolves to

  1. Recognise the critical importance of Blakeney Surgery to the community.
  2. Call on the Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care Board to provide local and equitable health care for those living in Blakeney and surrounding villages.