Future of Hartlepool medical centre still uncertain

Hartfields Patient Participation Group members, from left: Heather Collins, Hartfields Medical Centre practice manager; Liz Carroll, group chair and Jeff Stephens, group member

Hartfields Patient Participation Group members, from left: Heather Collins, Hartfields Medical Centre practice manager; Liz Carroll, group chair and Jeff Stephens, group member

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Health bosses have been accused of leaving patients in the dark about a shake-up of GP practices in Hartlepool.

The Fens Medical Centre was due to close at the end of this month after a review last year by local health chiefs.

Fens Medical Centre

Fens Medical Centre

Practices at Wynyard Road and Hartfields retirement village were saved and a new provider due to take over from April 1.

Following Hartlepool Borough Council’s referral of the decision to close the Fens site to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the contracts for all three medical centres have now been extended until June 30.

But the Hartfields Patient Participation Group says it has not been kept fully informed about the reasons for the delay and what is happening.

Chair of the group Liz Carroll said: “We remain in the dark. Despite our best efforts the patient participation group cannot get a straight answer to our legitimate concerns.

“The NHS mantra of openness and transparency does not appear to apply to themselves.”

A letter to stakeholders from Ali Wilson, chief officer of Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Due to circumstances beyond our control there has been a delay in the start of the new service which is now expected to commence on 1 July 2017.

“We will contact you again in the near future to confirm who the new provider of services will be.”

Robert Smith, chairman of the Fens Residents Association, said: “I share the patient participation group’s concerns about the lack of openness and transparency.

“However, the extension to the end of June does offer a glimmer of hope that common sense will eventually prevail.

“In the meantime patients of the Fens should continue to sit tight and see what happens.

“There is nothing to be gained by bailing out, it just make the situation even more difficult.”

The CCG disputed there has been a lack of transparency and said the delay is due to the council’s referral of the Fens centre.

A spokesman said: “A letter has gone out to all interested parties including the patient participation group.

“Contracts have been extended and we are working closely with all stakeholders to keep hem fully informed.

“We are awaiting a decision from the Secretary of State and will adhere to his decision.

“We will inform all stakeholders as soon as we know.”