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‘Deprived’ practice to close as CCG fails to find APMS provider

Health bosses in Newcastle have agreed to close a GP practice in a ‘deprived’ area of the city after a hunt for a provider proved fruitless and warned another closure could be on the cards.

NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG agreed to close the practice with 3,000 patients at the Ponteland Road Health Centre after the current contract ends in March.

It follows a consultation last year when 97% of patients and stakeholders said they wanted to keep the surgery open.

The CCG’s primary care commissioning committee (PCCC) voted last October to procure a standalone GP practice under an alternative provider medical services (APMS) contract.

It heard concerns from Newcastle-on-Tyne Central MP Chi Onwurah about health outcomes for patients who were reliant on public transport.

However after an unsuccessful attempt to find another provider the CCG ‘made the very difficult decision’ to close the practice at this week’s meeting.

Dr Neil Morris, medical director for NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG said: ’We have made the very difficult decision to close the GP practice at Ponteland Road Health Centre, following our unsuccessful attempt to find anyone to run the service.

’We are disappointed to be in this position, but unfortunately we have been left with no other option.

‘We understand that the practice is highly valued within the community and we have tried our best to keep the practice open. We would like to stress that this decision is not a reflection on the staff who have worked very hard to deliver a high quality service to their patients.’

Another closure could be on the cards as the CCG hunts for a contractor for the Grainger Medical Centre.

It has extended the existing emergency provider contract for until September. The CCG said ‘this will allow us time to undertake an exercise to secure a longer-term provider’.

But Dr Morris added: ’We are doing everything we can to safeguard the service at Grainger Medical Practice, but if we are unable to identify a new provider we may have no other option but to close the practice.

’In the meantime, patients can continue to use the service in the normal way. We have written to all registered patients and will keep them informed over the coming months.’

Last October, the PCCC agreed to close one of the practice’s two locations at the Scotswood GP practice – which is subject to a compulsory purchase order – and retain the surgery at the Elswick Health Centre.