'It's just not on' - crunch meeting call over plan to axe Hartlepool medical centre
Council bosses are organising a meeting with a medical group over its controversial plans to close a practice serving more than 2,000 patients.
The McKenzie Group Practice has started consulting patients ahead of seeking approval to permanently close Hartlepool’s Hartfields Medical Centre.
The practice says bringing services together at its other sites in town will improve quality and efficiency.
But Councillor Rob Cook, the chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee, said the authority needs to organise a meeting “as quickly as possible” with health bosses over the issue.
The Hart ward representative and independent councillor voiced his concerns over the closure after a petition was set up by residents, which has so far attracted nearly 330 signatures, and added: “They can’t just go ahead and close something because that’s what they want to do, it just doesn’t work like that, there are procedures that have got to be followed.
“It’s just not on as far as I’m concerned.
“What we need to do is organize as quickly as possible a meeting of the audit and governance committee with said partners, that’s imperative.”
He added people moved to Hartfields retirement village, which is on the same site as the medical centre, because there was a surgery there, and the move would leave Hart without a GP service.
Christopher Akers-Belcher, from Healthwatch Hartlepool, said his organisation has arranged its own meeting with the practice.
He said: “Consultation is only meaningful if it’s going to include everyone and there isn’t a set outcome.
“It might seem a stone’s throw away to go to Throston Surgery. For people with profound disabilities that’s not the case.”
He said although the site, which has 2,180 registered patients, has been closed since March 2020 due to Covid-19, this is “no rationale” for permanent closure.
Joan Stevens, the council’s statutory scrutiny manager, said the council is co-ordinating with Tees Valley CCG and The McKenzie Practice over arranging a date for a future meeting of the committee to discuss the issue.
The McKenzie Group Practice says it is applying to NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to request the closure of Hartfields permanently.
It insists patients have not had to wait longer since the temporary closure.