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Council considering co-locating GP surgeries with libraries in cost-cutting drive

A local council in the midlands is considering a proposal to run libraries alongside GP services in a bid to implement 30% spending cuts.

The proposal – to develop ‘health hubs’ with GP surgeries and general library services on the same site – was put forward at a recent meeting of Shropshire Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board.

The move was backed by the Council as a potential strategy to save some 22 libraries that are potentially facing the axe.

The health hubs have been proposed as a way to find new housing for under-threat libraries at the same time as overhauling NHS services, under a local programme to redesign NHS hospital and community services.

David Sandbach, a former chief officer at the Royal Princess Hospital in Telford, suggested that the Pontesbury Library could be saved by the approach, the Shropshire Star reported.

This could involve housing the library in an extension of the Pontesbury Medical Practice, in an empty dental practice next door or in a new-build close by funded by the sale of the current premises, according to the paper.

Councillor Steve Charmley, Cabinet Member with responsibilities for Libraries, confirmed to Pulse that the Council will be approaching the Pontesbury Medical Practice about the plans.

Mr Charmley said: ‘We know how important libraries are to local people and we want to ensure they remain at the heart their community. The library service is not about buildings – it’s about activity within a community that benefits everyone and makes a difference to as many people as possible.

‘An initial discussion exploring the idea of a “health hub” incorporating the Pontesbury Library, was discussed at the Shropshire Health and Wellbeing Board. We are happy to look at innovative ways of working with the CCG and local GPs, and are willing to explore this as well as other local community options, and aim to speak to the GP surgery along with other organisations in the coming weeks.’

A spokesperson for Shropshire CCG said they would be ‘happy to discuss the proposal when the Council takes it further’.