Councillor’s baby support for under-threat GP practice

Coun Dave Riddle and son Ethan shown with practice supervisor Donna Dakers.

Coun Dave Riddle and son Ethan shown with practice supervisor Donna Dakers.

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A COUNCILLOR showed his support for a GP practice under threat of closure by registering his baby son to boost the campaign to keep it open.

David Riddle, of Putting Hartlepool First, added bouncing six-month-old Ethan to the register at Hartfields Medical Centre despite local NHS leaders proposing to close the surgery as part of a review of GP contracts.

Coun Dave Riddle and son Ethan shown with practice supervisor Donna Dakers.

Coun Dave Riddle and son Ethan shown with practice supervisor Donna Dakers.

Coun Riddle said he hopes it will send out a message to patients worried about the future of the practice not to jump ship because of the closure fears.

A consultation has been running with patients and other stakeholders over NHS proposals to close the Hartfields practice and merge Fens Medical Centre in Hartlepool with the nearby Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre.

The NHS says the GP contracts provided by the three practices have not attracted enough patients since they were formed and will become too costly in the long term.

The review is being carried out by the Durham, Darlington & Tees area team of NHS England.

But patients, residents and councillors have spearheaded a campaign calling for all three practices to be kept open.

Coun Riddle said: “When I got involved with the campaign to save the practices, I was impressed by the facilities and staff at Hartfields.

“It has got a lot of things my current surgery doesn’t, such as online booking.

“Also I wanted to send out a message to residents not to be put off joining any of the practices that are under threat because we are taking this fight seriously.

“We want to stay together and keep them all open.”

Managers for the Hartfields surgery at IntraHealth and the Fens Residents’ Association previously urged patients who not to leave practices before they have to and to encourage people to join to strengthen their case.

Hartfields Medical Practice, at Hartfields Retirement Village, opened in April 2009 and is open to any patients across Hartlepool.

It has twice been voted the Best Medical Practice in the Mail’s Best of Health Awards, in 2011 and 2012.

Coun Riddle previously said it was “frankly ludicrous” to consider closing the high performing practice.

The surgery consultation closes on Monday, September 29, and a decision is expected next month.