Anger as closure of Hartlepool GP surgery announced

Fens Medical Centre is due to close on March 31, 2017
Fens Medical Centre is due to close on March 31, 2017
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A Hartlepool estate is set to lose its medical centre after a review by health chiefs.

Fens Medical Centre is due to close from the end of next March, affecting over 2,700 registered patients.

I think it’s an absolutely outrageous decision. I do believe it is a cost cutting exercise

Councillor Alan Clark (Fens and Rossmere)

But councillors were tonight (Thursday) due to consider a move to refer the issue to the Secretary of State for Health in a bid to stop it.

Commissioning chiefs from Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced the decision at a special meeting of the council’s Audit and Governance Committee today.

It followed an eight-week consultation into the future of Fens, Wynyard Road and Hartfields GP practices.

The CCG said each of the three practice’s short-term contracts are unsustainable both financially and for effective patient care.

It will go out to tender shortly to find a new provider for the Hartfields and Wynyard Road sites to run new 10-year contracts from next April.

Proposing to refer the issue to the Secretary of State, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “I think it’s worth a try for the people of Fens and surrounding areas who use these facilities.

“I think we owe it to them to give it one last try.”

Councillors and patients criticised the CCG of not considering one provider for all three sites, but it said it was not affordable to providers.

Angry councillors accused the CCG of putting cost before patients’ needs and said the decision to axe the Fens centre will just pile more pressure on the town’s already stretched GPs.

Fens ward councillor Alan Clark said: “I think it’s an absolutely outrageous decision. I do believe it is a cost cutting exercise.”

Karen Hawkins, the CCG’s associate director of commissioning and delivery, said it had to make sure services are sustainable for patients, adding: “We take our duty really seriously and sometimes we have to consult and engage on options that aren’t necessarily welcome. We haven’t gone for what is the most financially viable option, we have taken patients views into account before a decision has been taken.”