A WARD councillor says he is “bemused” by controversial plans to close medical centres in Hartlepool and has called for people to stand together.
Councillor David Riddle, Putting Hartlepool First spokesman, has called on NHS England not to close any of the medical practices currently subject to review.
A consultation is underway over NHS proposals to merge Fens Medical Centre in Hartlepool with the nearby Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre, prompting fears the smaller Fens practice will close.
NHS England is also proposing to axe Hartfields Medical Centre with over 2,000 patients having to find other GP practices, in a move which has sparked anger across Hartlepool.
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.
But Coun Riddle, who represents the Hart Ward, says councillors and residents need to stick together and make a stand over the issue.
He said: “What we must not do is fall into the trap of a ‘divide and conquer’ approach with each ward’s councillors fighting to retain their particular surgery.
“The important thing is we put party politics aside and fight to retain all medical centres in the town.”
Hartfields Medical Practice only opened in April 2009 and is an integral part of Hartfields Retirement Village as well as serving patients across Hartlepool including the expanding Bishop Cuthbert estate.
It has twice been voted the Best Medical Practice in the Mail’s Best of Health Awards, in 2011 and 2012, and Coun Riddle said it is “frankly ludicrous” to consider closing the high performing practice.
Coun Riddle added: “The loss of any surgery in the town will hit residents hard and is totally unacceptable, especially in light of the loss of services at Hartlepool Hospital. However, the potential closure of Hartfields is particularly worrying given that it has grown in patient numbers virtually every month since it opened.
“No resident wants to see their local doctors’ surgery close. But for a surgery such as Hartfields, which is arguably the best and fastest growing in Hartlepool, to potentially be facing closure is bemusing to say the least.”
The consultation closes on September 29. To take part patients and stakeholders should visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/HartlepoolAPMSConsultation