Plan to close GP practice due to falling patient numbers has been put on hold
Proposals to close a GP surgery in East Durham due to falling patient numbers have been put on hold by health bosses.
Earlier this year, an application was lodged to close the Healthworks branch site, off Paradise Lane, Easington Colliery.
Easington and Peterlee Medical Group currently have three practices, with two in Easington Colliery.
According to documents submitted to health bosses, the distance between the two sites can “cause confusion for patients.”
At Healthworks, the practice currently offers reduced sessions due to falling patient numbers.
According to a report, only 8% of the practice’s total patient list attend the site.
The closure plans were considered by Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES) and North Durham’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) on Thursday, September 19.
This includes “redeploying staff” across two remaining sites with no redundancies planned.
Following discussion, health bosses agreed to put the proposals on hold to allow time to explore potential alternatives.
Concerns included the potential impact on patients from leaving a “high-quality building.”
Health bosses also noted the potential estates costs of the HealthWorks building lying empty.
According to a report, the void building would lump the CCG with an annual bill of £15,346 every year.
Chief officer of DDES CCG, Dr Stewart Findlay, said it was “premature to make a decision today.”
He added: “We have a lot of void buildings and that’s not a good use of NHS money.
“Our prime responsibility is to the patients and to make sure they have premises which are fit for purpose.”
Plans are set to be discussed again by the joint Primary Care Commissioning Committee in November.
If approved, the Healthworks site would close on December 1.
At the same meeting, health bosses also approved plans to merge two GP practices in Seaham.
This includes the Avenue Family Practice and Deneside Medical Centre which will be renamed Byron Medical Practice.
The meeting heard the merged practice would prove more attractive to recruiting and retaining GPs.
It will be based in the Deneside Medical Centre from October 1 with no changes to patient services expected.