Government minister to be asked to review decision to axe Hartlepool GP practice

Fens Medeical Centre
Fens Medeical Centre

A decision to close a Hartlepool medical centre will be referred to the Government in a bid to save it.

Councillors voted unanimously to use their powers to ask the Secretary of State for Health to review the verdict for Fens Medical Centre.

I think it’s an absolute no brainer, this council must support sending this to the Secretary of State

Councillor Alan Clark (Fens and Rossmere)

Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced it had decided to procure a new contract for one provider to run Hartfields and Wynyard Road GP practices.

That means the Fens surgery, which has just over 2,700 patients on its books, is due to close by March 31 next year.

It followed an eight-week review and public consultation by the CCG which said the type of contracts the three medical centres operated under could not be extended beyond next April.

The council has referred the issue on the grounds that the decision will be detrimental to the health service in its area and will argue the consultation was not good enough.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt can dismiss the referral, ask for the CCG to reconsider, or seek more advice from the The Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

Councillor Alan Clark (Fens and Rossmere), said GP services are already creaking at the seams.

He said: “I think it’s an absolute no brainer, this council must support sending this to the Secretary of State.”

All patients registered with Fens, Hartfields and Wynyard Road medical centres, numbering over 7,000, will be automatically signed up to the new contract provider. An advert for tenders will go out on November 7.

Liz Carroll, chair of the Hartfields Patient Participation Group, said: “Clearly, residents will be delighted that Hartfields is going to be reprieved.

“We have always stood united as a group to fight the closure of any of the three surgeries.”

Other Fens councillors slammed the decision. Coun Bob Buchan said health care plans are for greater care in the community adding: “It is going to have more pressure on existing surgeries.”

Coun Jim Lindridge said many Fens residents live close to a mile away from the Wynyard Road practice compared to half a mile stated by the CCG.

The CCG says combining practices offers patients greater flexibility and a wider skill mix including pharmacists and nurse practitioners.

Karen Hawkins, associate director of commissioning and delivery, said: “We know with a smaller list size because we have had recent closures in Hartlepool and terminations of contract due to not being able to sustain the services either through affordability because rate is set nationally, so the smaller your list size you still need the same workforce to deliver the service.”