Consultation on proposed Hartlepool medical practice closure was 'flawed' say scrutiny councillors

The proposed closure of a Hartlepool medical practice will be back on the agenda when councillors hear the results of a consultation.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:53 pm

McKenzie Group is planning to apply to local health chiefs to permanently close Hartfields Medical Practice, based at Hartfields Extra Care Village, in the Bishop Cuthbert area.

Practice bosses say it is to bring services together at its other sites in the town.

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Hartlepool Council Audit and Governance Committee chairman Cllr Rob Cook during a meeting discussing the proposed closure of Hartfield's Medical Practice in August.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee will hear the full results of the McKenzie Group’s consultation with stakeholders and consider any further action when the committee next meets on Thursday, September 23, at 1pm.

The committee submitted its response at the end of last month objecting to the closure.

They say it goes against people’s fundamental right of access to GP services would not be in the best interests of patients registered at the practice or with the wider McKenzie Group.

Audit and governance chairman Councillor Rob Cook said: “The needs of patients are paramount and we felt consideration had not been given to the implications for vulnerable residents living in Hartfields and the wider community in accessing GP and prescription services, particularly in terms of difficulties in accessing transport and having to increasingly rely on digital access for prescriptions.

The practice at Hartfields has been closed temporarily since the start of the Covid pandemic.

“We also feel the new housing planned for the area supports the need for retaining the practice, and we are concerned that options have not been explored for providing alternative accommodation on the Hartfields site to meet the McKenzie Group’s requirements and allow the surgery to stay in its current location.”

Cllr Cook added the committee also believe the engagement process was flawed with indications that not all residents received letters or were able to respond using a computer.

Hartfields Medical Practice, which has 2,180 registered patients, has been temporarily closed since March last year due to the pandemic.

Managers say the premises is limited with no scope for further development to deliver additional services.

A limited number of members of the public will be able to attend the audit and governance meeting on a first come, first served basis.

Anyone wishing to attend should phone (01429) 523568 or 523019 by midday on Wednesday, September 22.

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