Patients group to ask Hartlepool council for support against closure risk

Hartfields Medical Centre at Bishop Cuthbert.
Hartfields Medical Centre at Bishop Cuthbert.
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A patients’ group for a medical practice under threat of closure is to approach council chiefs for support.

Liz Carroll, chair of the Hartfields Patient Participation Group, has submitted a question to Hartlepool Borough Council Leader, Council Christopher Akers-Belcher.

It is due to be answered at the next Full Council meeting on the evening of Thursday, September 8.

Hartfields Medical Practice, part of the retirement complex on Hartlepool’s Bishop Cuthbert housing estate, is one of three town practices under review by local NHS commissioners.

Ms Carroll said: “NHS England and the CCG has launched a review of services delivered from Hartfields, Wynyard and Fens medical practices.

“Hartfields Medical Practice and Fens Medical Practice Patient Participation groups are concerned about the sincerity of the many agencies now involved in the review.

“It has become a daunting, inefficient and complex process involving several agencies such as NHS England, Hartlepool CCG, Healthwatch and so on.

“We therefore took the view that a formal question to the full council was necessary and the only way to ensure that our concerns were taken seriously.”

Ms Carroll’s question to Coun Akers-Belcher states: “It is widely acknowledged that there is a crisis in primary care in the UK and that Hartlepool has one of the lowest patient to GP ratios in the country.

“What is Hartlepool Borough Council constructively and pro-actively doing to prevent the closure of any of the three APMS (Alternative Provider Medical Services) practices currently under review in the town?”

The Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group, says the contracts that each of the three centres operate under cannot be extended beyond March 31 next year.

It says they are no longer viable because they do not meet the requirements of NHS national policy, that short-term contracts are unsustainable in the longer-term, both financially and for effective patient care.