HARTLEPOOL’S councillors have set aside their political differences to join a campaign to save GP practices under threat of closure.
Twenty-six councillors from all parties on Hartlepool Borough Council have signed a letter in support of the Fens, Hartfields and Wynyard Road surgeries.
The letter, also signed by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and campaign leaders, will be sent as part of a dossier to an NHS chief leading a review stressing why all three surgeries should be kept open.
NHS England managers say the type of contract provided by the three practices has not attracted the level of patients expected in five years in order to provide value for money.
It is proposing axing the Hartfields surgery with over 2,000 patients having to look elsewhere, and for Fens and Wynyard Road to merge with the likely closure of the smaller Fens premises.
The campaign has been led jointly by Hartfields’ Patient Participation Group, Fens Residents’ Association and several councillors have been closely involved.
Just seven councillors who sit on the Audit and Governance Committee have not signed the letter as they still have to debate the review on Friday, October 10.
Robert Smith, chairman of the Fens Residents’ Association, said: “This determination to stand united in defiance of these totally unacceptable proposals has now been taken to a new level with all of our councillors, except members of the Audit and Governance Committee, putting their names to this letter.
“They have put aside their political differences in the best interests of Hartlepool.
“The campaign has also benefitted immensely from the consistent and sympathetic support of the Hartlepool Mail, whose excellent coverage of this important issue has been invaluable.”
In the covering letter to Cameron Ward, area director for NHS England’s Durham, Darlington and Tees area team, the campaigners state: “The three surgeries were commissioned to strengthen the under provision of primary care services that existed.
“Now when more is expected from primary care it is illogical and dangerous to reduce services at such a crucial time.
“The consequences of what your officers have suggested would have devastating effects for the patients of any of the practices in Hartlepool.”
They reiterate the NHS not taken into account plans for thousands of new homes near to each of the surgeries.
And they add many practices in the town are already at full capacity.
Patients have until Monday, September 29, to respond to the consultation exercise by NHS England.