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Further GP practice closures affecting 6,500 patients



More than 6,500 patients in the north of England are facing a hunt for a new GP practice.

The Gorton Street Practice in Blackpool handed back its contract at the end of September, while commissioners have ended a fruitless search for a new provider to run a practice in Stockton.

NHS Blackpool CCG told 4,000 patients that it had made ‘great efforts’ to recruit a replacement after Dr Stephen Clarke found a new job. It did not want to rely on locums instead.

Other practices in the town have the capacity to take on the extra patients, it said.

Meanwhile, Stockton NHS Health Centre, which is also known as Tithebarn, is due to close at the end of October, despite four attempts to find an alternative provider.

Virgin Care ran the practice for 2,085 patients, as well as an urgent care centre, which also offered out of hours care.

The contract ran out in March and the urgent care element was transferred to the University Hospital of North Tees next door and the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG asked local practices to apply to run the practice as a branch surgery.

However no one applied and the CCG then looked for a surgery willing to provide part-time services as a branch practice.

It surveyed patients to ask them when and where they wanted their services delivered and invited them to patient information events.

Elm Practice stepped in to help out for four months until the end of October.

After four attempts to find alternative ways to run the practice the CCG is now encouraging patients to register with a new surgery in Stockton.

It has written to other practices in the town to expect to see patients from the Tithebarn surgery and has also contacted patients to encourage them to register elsewhere.

A CCG spokesperson said: ‘It’s not an issue of recruitment. We tried really hard to maintain it, we don’t really want to have practices close.

‘We aim to get patients safely registered with another practice.’