Staff at Hartlepool GP medical practices threatened with closure feel like ‘pawns in a perverse game of chess’ says a union.
Health chiefs are currently consulting on future options for the Fens Medical Centre, Hartfields Medical Practice and Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre.
The Wynyard Road centre is set to be safe featuring in all three options put forward by the Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
But Unison, which represents workers at the practices concerned, says it is concerned that the consultation process is divisive and unfair on the public and add the NHS should find a better way of making a decision.
Mike Hill, Regional Organiser for Unison, said: “Our members are quite rightly concerned that the spotlight has fallen on them yet again and they have been left feeling like pawns in a perverse game of chess.
“When you consider the options presented by the CCG it is clear that the consultation process will divide communities and ultimately lay the blame on which practice is to close squarely at the feet of the public and that is not acceptable.
“We are pleased to see Iain Wright MP and others come out fighting for our members and patients across the piece and we call for unity in the fight to see meaningful investment in primary care provision, not death by a thousand cuts.”
Unison says it is currently in the process of engaging with members across all sites and representatives have visited all of the medical centre’s to gauge early opinion on the proposals.
It says it plans to feed their views into the consultation process.
The latest uncertainty for patients and staff comes just a year after all three practices were granted short term extensions to their current contracts.
They are due to come to an end on March 31 next year and the CCG says further extensions are not possible as it goes against NHS strategy and are not sustainable in the long term.
The CCG considered around a dozen possible options for the three sites, which have more than 7,000 patients registered between them.
They have narrowed it down to a final three. They are for one provider to manage Fens and Wynyard Road; one provider to manage Hartfields and Wynyard Road, while the third is to keep Wynyard Road only.