The largest union in the region says it is supporting campaigners in their fight against closure for three Hartlepool doctors’ practices.
Unison says it is fully behind the actions of patients who will also call on Hartlepool Borough Council to intervene.
This may be just the tip of the iceberg and more mergers and closures could lie aheadMike Hill, Unison
The Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched a second review into the future of services provided by the Fens Medical Centre, Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre and Hartfields Medical Centre.
Under CCG’s three proposals the Fens and Hartfields centres could potentially both close.
Mike Hill, Regional Organiser for Unison said: “It’s great to see campaigners like Liz Carroll and the Hartfields Patient Participation Group working with other groups to defend patient services.
“This is important and encouraging news for the hard working staff in these under-threat practices that are passionate about their places of work and the patients they care for.”
Campaigners have now called on Hartlepool council to intervene to prevent the closure of any of the three practices.
A question submitted by Mrs Carroll is due to be considered at the next full council meeting on Thursday, September 8.
Mr Hill said: “I have no doubt that they will get a positive response, but at the end of the day the local authority doesn’t own the process or set the rules; that responsibility lies with the NHS, and it is they who need to listen.”
He added: “We have already seen closures of GP Practices in Hartlepool, such as the Journee Medical Practice on Victoria Road, and with a growing shortage of GP’s both nationally and particularly in the North East, this may be just the tip of the iceberg and more mergers and closures could lie ahead.
“There seems now to be a growing crisis of health and social care delivery across our town, which is extremely worrying.”
Each of the three medical centres were given a stay of execution after a review two years ago.
The CCG says their contracts have been extended several times, and cannot legally be extended after they end at the end of next March.
Twelve possible scenarios that were produced as a result of previous engagement have been reduced to a shortlist of three after assessing each against criteria including premises, affordability, sustainability
and patient feedback.
The proposals are to have one provider at Wynyard Road and the Fens or Hartfields sites, while the third is to have one provider at just Wynyard Road.
Collectively, the three centres have more than 7,000 registered patients.