Doctors accused of trying to close clinics 'by stealth' reveal plan for practices

Doctors who were accused of trying to shut down a village surgery ‘by stealth’ are due to reveal their possible plans for the practice.

Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 5:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th June 2019, 10:57 am
Skerne Medical Group practice in Trimdon Village. Picture c/o Google.


Skerne Medical Group (SMG) made headlines last year after applying to shut its clinics in Trimdon Village and Fishburn.

This was prompted by recruitment concerns, but while health bosses agreed with the case for closing Trimdon Village they said Fishburn should stay open.

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Patients will be asked to give their views on proposals for its three remaining sites in July, which also include Trimdon Colliery and Sedgefield.

“I believed back in January that this process was closure by stealth and warned that Fishburn would be next on the list,” said Coun Jude Grant, who represents Durham County Council’s Trimdon and Thornley division.

“I understand and sympathise with Skerne practice that there is a crisis in GP recruitment but questions need to be asked about why the other main GP practice in my ward, East Durham Medical Group works across 6 sites and has its full quota of GPs.

“I hope for the sake of vulnerable patients Skerne seriously consider the viable option of a new purpose built medical centre in Trimdon Village to ensure the people of the Trimdons are provided with the primary care they need and deserve.”

SMG previously put downsizing plans out to consultation last year.

The group has now revealed it has five proposals for its future, but is yet to release further details.

Between July 9 and August 12, doctors will hold seven public meetings where patients will be able to find out more.

Bosses have insisted an overhaul is needed to guarantee the ‘long-term viability of the practice’ and cited recruitment as a key concern, claiming job candidates have been put off by the prospect of working across multiple sites.

Practice partner Dr. Christine Hearmon said: “We were grateful for the input of patients during the public engagement process last year.

“As we outlined at the time, we have been facing a perfect storm and our priority at all times has been to ensure sustainable medical care for our existing 15,500 patients, and those who are likely to swell these numbers because of significant local housing developments.”