‘Hands off our GPs!’ – Hartlepool councillor’s plea to NHS chiefs

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A COUNCILLOR for an area facing the closure of a valued GP practice has written to health chiefs to plead its case.

Hart ward representative Paul Beck has contacted NHS managers over the review of Hartfields Medical Practice which is being proposed for closure and over 2,000 patients, including a number of elderly people, having to find other GP practices.

Coun Ward stressed in his letter to Wendy Stephens, NHS England’s Primary Care Contracts Manager, how housing developments for around 700 new homes will boost patient numbers and how many residents of Hartfields Extra Care Village rely on the practice.

Coun Beck told Ms Stephens: “Most of the patients at Hartfields purchased their homes with the knowledge that this Extra Care Retirement Village has a superb reputation of service, not only within the village, but also the wider community.

“I have read your consultation document, and your failure to mention the considerable amount of new development within the Hart Ward is quite unbelievable.”

Coun Beck highlights a new 500 house development at Viola Close, and 161 houses being built on Hartfields doorstep.

He added: “The residents who buy within our ward consider that a GP surgery in a close proximity is essential.

“The new developments will considerably increase the uptake within the surgery.

“To look more closely at our residents at Hartfields, to ask frail elderly patients to travel elsewhere is totally unrealistic.”

He said the proposals by NHS England, currently under consultation, go against the NHS’s pledge of care closer to the community following the loss of critical hospital services in Hartlepool.

Coun Beck added: “People in our town are no longer going to sit back and accept that these closures are the acceptable norm.

“For the NHS to come in and move the goalposts after the serious situation surrounding of hospital, or lack of it, is totally unacceptable.”

He urged patients not to sit back and ignore the consultation which runs until September 29.

The review also proposes to merge Fens Medical Centre in with the nearby Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre, prompting fears the smaller Fens practice will close.

Fens and Rossmere councillor Alan Clark has penned an open letter demanding answers from Dame Barbara Hakin, Director of Commissioning at NHS England.

He says they don’t take into account up to 2,700 new houses in the pipeline for that part of town.

NHS England says the three practices have not attracted the level of expected patients in the last five years and the GP contracts will become too costly to maintain.