Residents launch petition to fight proposed closure of Hartlepool medical centre
Residents have lauched a petition to try to overturn plans to close a medical centre on a Hartlepool housing estate.
The McKenzie Group Practice is consulting with patients ahead of it seeking approval to permanently close Hartfields Medical Centre at Bishop Cuthbert.
The medical centre, which is on the same site as Hartfields retirement village, has been temporarily closed since mid-March last year due to the pandemic.
It has 2,180 registered patients.
The Bishop Cuthbert, Hartfields and Clavering Residents Association has started a petition to fight the closure saying the centre provides a lifeline for families of the estates and elderly residents of Hartfields.
The practice says bringing services together at its other sites in town will improve quality and efficiency.
Dad of two Glen Hughes, temporary chair of the residents association, believes Covid is being used as an excuse.
Mr Hughes, who has previously campaigned to protect services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, said: “A lot of people bought into the retirement village because there was a doctor’s surgery on site.
"It served a vital lifeline to some of the residents who don’t have good mobility and some don’t drive.
"At Bishop Cuthbert and Clavering they’re building another 500 houses. It just seems they are taking away community service when what we need is more.”
The McKenzie Group Practice says the temporary closure of Hartfields was necessary to ensure it complied with social distancing requirements and enable more effective use of staff.
It said on its website: “We will be applying to NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to request the closure of the Hartfields site permanently to bring services together at our other sites to enhance clinical quality and practice resilience, to run more efficiently, and continue to deliver high quality of care to patients.
"We are undertaking a six-week period of patient and stakeholder engagement (Monday 19 July – Sunday 29 August 2021) to gather views and experiences during the temporary closure of the branch.”
The practice adds the Hartfields premises is limited with up to three clinical rooms, one without daylight, and say there is no scope for further development to deliver additional services.
Its nearest site is Throston Medical Centre about a mile away.
Glen, 42, added: “Throston was built before Hartfields to serve a certain area. It is going to put more pressure on that service.
"A lot of people have said how difficult it has been to get an appointment.”
But McKenzie Group deny that will be the case.
In a question and answer document about the proposed closure it says: “We have been operating with our appointment model since the start of the temporary closure of the Hartfields site in March 2020 and patients have not had to wait longer.
“The same number of appointments will continue to be made available.”
All patients over 16 years registered with any of McKenzie Group’s practices in Hartlepool are invited to complete an online survey about the proposed Hartfields closure at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Hartfields
Printed copies can also be requested and collected from reception at McKenzie House, Victoria Medical Centre, Wynyard Road Medical Centre, or Throston Medical Centre.
The Save Hartfields Medical Practice petition can be signed at change.org