MORE than 1,300 Wearsiders are today having to change their family doctor.
Maritime Practice, at Riverview Health Centre in West Lawrence Street, Hendon, will shut on December 31 after three-and-a-half years.
The practice has 1,348 patients, with most coming from the East End.
The decision has been made after a predicted increase in patient numbers at the facility, run by Intreahealth, failed to reach expected levels.
Health bosses say the service no longer provides “value for money”, meaning it has to close.
Some have hit out at the news and say they face unnecessary complications in finding out alternative arrangements.
Margaret Stephenson, 58, of Town End Farm, is a patient at the practice. She suffers from illnesses such as chronic kidney disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis and says she feels well looked after by the facility’s staff.
“I depend on my doctor there because she knows my condition,” she said.
“I’ve found a doctor that cares about me and now I’m going to have find someone else who I can put my trust in.
“This surgery is one of the best surgeries you will ever find in Sunderland.
“It not only benefits me but asylum seekers as well and people with mental health problems.
“I don’t think vulnerable people should be put in this position.”
The life expectancy of people living in Hendon, one of the more deprived areas of Sunderland, is 69, seven years shorter than the average for Sunderland and 10 shorter than the average in England.
Heart disease and cancer rates are also significantly higher in the area compared to others in the city.
Hendon councillor Tom Martin said the news would cause difficulties for residents.
“I think it’s sad for people in the area because it’s a convenient medical service which a lot of them use,” he said.
“I hope they are all looked after and directed to new surgeries who will take them.
“My fellow ward councillors and I are going to keep an eye on the situation to see what happens.”
Explaining the decision, a spokeswoman for NHS south of Tyne and Wear (on behalf of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust) and IntraHealth Limited, said: “NHS South of Tyne and Wear is writing to patients and carers this week to explain the situation and is providing support to ensure that patients are re-registered with another local practice.
“Detailed discussions are taking place with the Local Medical Committee and GP practices to ensure that there is sufficient capacity available to accommodate these patients.”
Two other practices at Riverview will remain open as normal.
Those concerned about the changes should call the Patient Advice and Liaison service on freephone 0800 7312 326.