'There are a lot of people very worried' over planned closure of Hartlepool medical centre
Calls have been made by councillors and health chiefs to stop a medical centre with nearly 2,200 registered patients from closing.
This has led to the Bishop Cuthbert, Hartfields and Clavering Residents Association starting a petition to fight the closure, which has collected more than 270 signatures to date.
They argue the centre provides a lifeline for families from the estate and elderly Hartlepool residents of Hartfields.
Yet the practice says bringing services together at its other sites in town will improve quality and efficiency.
The issue was raised by Hart ward representative Cllr Rob Cook at this week’s Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board meeting.
Independent Councillor Cook said: “There are a lot of people very worried about not being able to access a doctor at Hartfields
“The residents are absolutely devastated about having to look and go somewhere else when it’s right there on their doorstep. We’re talking about a lot of people who are old and have access to a doctor.”
Conservative Cllr Tom Cassidy, who also represents the Hart ward, last week called the plans to close Hartfield’s Medical Centre “ludicrous” and “unjustified”.
The centre, which is on the same site as Hartfields retirement village and has 2,180 registered patients, has been temporarily closed since mid-March last year due to the pandemic.
Christopher Akers-Belcher, Healthwatch Hartlepool’s representative on the board, urged for more information to be provided from Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group.
He added GP services was the number one issue Healthwatch was contacted about in 2020-21, equating to 62% of queries.
Mr Akers-Belcher said: “We have a lot of evidence already on GP access and I certainly wouldn’t be advocating from a Healthwatch perspective the changing of any services.
“It should be about returning to normal and enhancements.”
David Gallagher, chief officer at Tees Valley CCG, speaking at the meeting, said various steps needed to be taken before any potential permanent closure was decided upon.
He said: “There is a process that needs to be gone through, there needs to be an application made by the practice that goes through a formal process within the CCG.”