BOSSES at a city health centre in one of Sunderland’s most deprived areas set the record straight amid closure fears.
The Echo revealed earlier this month that Maritime Surgery, which is one of three practices based at Riverview Health Centre, in West Lawrence Street, Hendon, is set to close at the end of the year.
More than 1,300 patients are now having to arrange an alternative doctor.
Officials say that Maritime, which opened three-and-a-half years ago, has not been providing “value for money”.
But bosses at the other two surgeries in Riverview today said it was business as usual after patients expressed fears that the whole facility could shut.
The life expectancy of people in Hendon is 69, seven years shorter than the Sunderland average.
Lisa Richardson, practice manager of the surgery run by Dr Shashank Bhate and Dr Hussien El-Shakankery, said: “We are still here and we are not going anywhere.
“Last week we had a flu drop-in clinic and a lot of the people coming in for treatment were asking “when is it closing?”.
“But we are actually taking on new patients, as is Dr Nathan’s practice.
“If any patients who are with Maritime are willing to join us we could take them on as well.”
Patients at Maritime have hit out at the decision to close the surgery.
Margaret Stephenson, 58, gets treatment for her chronic kidney disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis conditions at Maritime.
“I’m waiting to see if I can stay with the doctor I am with now,” said the Town End Farm resident.
“It’s sad when we are put in this position.”
A spokeswoman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, on behalf of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, said: “We are working closely with local GPs to ensure that patients from Maritime Practice are reregistered with another local practice.
“Although Maritime practice is closing on December 31, the two other practices at Riverview Health Centre will remain open.”
Those affected should contact the Patient Advice and Liaison service on freephone 0800 7312 326.