Hartlepool medical centre reopens for first time in almost two years while closure talks continue

A medical centre that health bosses want to close has reopened for the first time in almost two years.

Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:45 am

Hartfields Medical Centre, at Bishop Cuthbert in Hartlepool, had been temporarily shut since mid-March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Operators McKenzie Group Practice intend to apply to local health chiefs to permanently close it and consolidate services at its other sites.

But Hartfields, next to Hartfields retirement village, reopened for the first time to patients on January 10 after the Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it should.

Bishop Cuthbert resident and health campaigner Glen Hughes outside Hartfields Medical Centre which has reopened.

It is while the outcome of a second round of engagement on the closure plans is awaited after scrutiny councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council felt an initial consultation was flawed.

Bishop Cuthbert resident Glen Hughes, a dad of two who started a petition against the centre’s closure last year, said: “I’m over the moon that the residents of Hartfields and the estate have got this.

"Common sense has seen the light and the CCG have instructed Hartfields to reopen.

"It is definitely needed. Hopefully, we can keep on with it and make it bigger and stronger.

The medical centre is next to Hartfields retirement village. Picture by FRANK REID

"If they are going to relook at trying to close it, it there needs to be proper scrutiny and everyone needs to be part of it and have their voices heard.”

Glen said he had a positive experience when he used the medical centre recently and was able to get through on the phone quickly.

The McKenzie Group Practice intends to apply to the clinical commissioning group for permission to permanently close the centre and bring services together at its other sites at McKenzie House, Victoria Medical Centre, Wynyard Road Medical Centre and Throston Medical Centre.

They say it will enhance clinical quality, practice resilience, and see services run more efficiently.

Cllr Rob Cook, chair of Hartlepool Borough Council Audit and Governance Committee.

Hartfields Medical Centre has 2,180 registered patients.

The latest engagement exercise is set to run until March 25 followed by an evaluation of the findings running until May.

They will then be presented to Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee.

In an update, McKenzie Group Practice said on its website: “We have since committed to a further period of engagement and are currently agreeing with stakeholders what this should look like.”

Councillor Rob Cook, Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council's audit and governance committee, said: "I welcome the announcement of a further round of public engagement by the McKenzie Group Practice as it presents us with a further opportunity to oppose the proposed permanent closure of Hartfields Medical Practice.

"We are inviting representatives of the McKenzie Group Practice to attend the February meeting of the audit and governance committee to outline the options for the future of the Hartfield Medical Practice.

"This will enable the committee to formulate a formal response.”

He added the results of the engagement will be evaluated by the McKenzie Group Practice.

A further presentation is then expected to go before the audit and governance committee, along with the proposed next steps, early in the new municipal year from April.

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