The closure of a 5,000-patient practice at the end of June has sparked a political row, with Labour MP Anna Turley raising the issue in the House of Commons.
This followed the announcement by NHS South Tees CCG that the Marske Medical Centre, near Redcar, would close following ‘four recent unsuccessful attempts at finding a provider for the service’.
NHS England had provided emergency GP cover for the last year after Danum Medical Services, a GP federation that had been running the practice, went into administration in March last year.
Speaking in the House of Commons at the end of last month, Ms Turley said: ‘Not a single bid was received. What a damning indictment of this government’s market approach to healthcare.’
The MP said that she has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt to step in urgently ‘on behalf of patients who rely on the GP service’, adding: ‘Otherwise, any mention of protecting the NHS in the Government’s manifesto will be seen around my way for the hollow sham that it is.’
Ms Turley also presented a petition to prevent the closure, signed by 421 residents in her constituency that are affected by the closure.
The petition points out that many of the 5,000 patients are elderly and that they will have to travel to neighbouring towns to register with a GP. The petition calls on the House of Commons to ‘urge the Government to prevent the closure of the Marske Medical Centre’.
Meanwhile, NHS South Tees CCG says that the decision to close the practice was ‘difficult’.
In a letter to patients, Alex Sinclair, director of programmes and primary care development, said: ‘In an attempt to secure a new provider for your GP practice, we carried out a procurement exercise. This involved inviting suitable providers to bid for the contract.
’Unfortunately, no prospective providers were identified. As a result, [NHS South Tees CCG] arranged for a short term extension of the contract, until 30 June 2017 whilst a final attempt to secure a new provider was carried out.
’Unfortunately, this was also unsuccessful and as a result, we have taken the difficult decision to close the practice on the 30 June 2017.’
The CCG said that it is the priority now is to ensure registered patients have access to alternative primary health care services.