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Kent GP says if given the choice it would stay open ahead of Queen’s state funeral on a public holiday

A Medway GP has explained why practices will be closed on this Bank Holiday Monday due to the Queen’s funeral – even though he prefers to remain open.

Dr Julian Spinks said his practice will be one of many to close, but measures have been put in place for those in need of urgent medical attention.

Dr Julian Spinks undergoes surgery at Medway

The decision was announced this week and saw many hospitals in England cancel appointments scheduled for Monday.

Some hospitals said they would operate as usual, while others said they would postpone some non-emergency appointments.

Hospital trusts are expected to make their own decisions about appointments based on staffing levels and whether or not local transportation will mean patients and staff cannot attend.

Dr Spinks explained why his practice will close on the day of the Queen’s funeral.

He said: “Our practices are going to close and we have certain reasons why.

Several appointments were postponed on Monday due to the Queen's funeral.  Archival photo
Several appointments were postponed on Monday due to the Queen’s funeral. Archival photo

“Some of the practices are actually in buildings called Healthy Living Centers, and the people who run those centers have said they will close, so we have no choice in this kind of situation.

“What’s going to happen is it’s going to operate like most public holidays. There will still be emergency coverage, after-hours services will operate, some vaccination clinics will continue to operate.

“It’s a tricky situation. We realize it’s difficult. Most practices actually redistribute appointments, so people will still get their appointment, although maybe delayed a day or two.

“But those who have real emergencies, yes, you will be able to be seen.”

He added: “If I had the choice, I would personally remain open, but one of the problems is that general medicine is not enough on its own.

Patients have expressed concern about the postponement of their appointments.  Archival photo
Patients have expressed concern about the postponement of their appointments. Archival photo

“We have things like outpatient departments in hospitals that are closing, we have pathology labs that are closing, so we can’t do urgent or routine blood tests.

“So we would be in a situation where you’re sitting there with nothing you can do but see the patient.

“It’s a tricky thing. Public holidays are always a problem.

“We just went through the August bank holiday and the whole world is not falling apart because of it because we are planning for it.

“It’s just that we’ve had less time to do it now.”

Some patients have expressed concern about the postponement of their appointments online, and the GP explained that the delay will vary from practice to practice and how their appointment systems work.

“Unfortunately, in some practices where they are massively overbooked on demand, they may have appointments booked for a week or two, but they are going to have to consider the needs of people whose appointment is cancelled.

“Because if you don’t necessarily have a super urgent issue, but something that needs to be seen soon, then we’ll have to try to fit them in,” he said.

Measures are in place for those in need of urgent care.  Archival photo
Measures are in place for those in need of urgent care. Archival photo

However, measures are in place for anyone in need of urgent medical care.

He explained: “If you have something that happened that day that you can’t wait until the surgery reopens, then you will need to seek advice.

“You do this by calling NHS 111, they do an assessment and if you need to be seen urgently they can put you in touch with out-of-hours GP services and arrange for you to go to an A&E center without an appointment.

“And if it’s really serious, they can send you an ambulance. So we have things in place.”