Sunderland health centre ‘open for business’

Monkwearmouth Health Centre, Dundas Street, Sunderland
Monkwearmouth Health Centre, Dundas Street, Sunderland
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DOCTORS at a city surgery today reassured patients that they are open for business.

The Echo reported last week how Wearside Medical Practice, which is based at Monkwearmouth Health Centre, in Dundas Street, could close next month.

A review found that only a “low number of patients” are registered with the surgery, despite 2,000 people using it regularly.

The current GPs’ contract to provide services there runs out in six weeks’ time.

However, Dr Karthik Gelia and Dr Balaraman’s surgery, which is also housed at Monkwearmouth Health Centre, is unaffected by the development.

There are no plans to close Monkwearmouth Health Centre either.

Dr Gelia told the Echo: “We’ve had a few patients call, write or email us because they are worried about us closing, but that’s not the case.

“It’s been mostly from patients who don’t live that close to the practice who have maybe got a bit confused.”

Judith Taylor, practice manager at Dr Gelia’s surgery, said: “We would like to reassure all their patients that Dr Gellia and Dr Balaraman’s surgery remains open as usual.”

Monkwearmouth Health Centre itself also remains open.

Despite patients getting the letter saying Wearside Medical Practice could close, bosses say the final decision has not been made yet and a review is ongoing.

Regarding the future of Wearside Medical Practice, a spokeswoman for NHS England’s Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team said: “The contract with the current provider of services at Wearside Medical Practice is due to end on September 26, 2014, therefore, the area team is in the process of assessing the future of this service. The review of the service to date has highlighted that there is a low number of patients registered at the practice, and there is a range of other providers in the area. Closure of the practice is an option that is being considered.

“However, a final decision will not be made until later this year when engagement with patients and stakeholders has concluded.

The spokeswoman added: “The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team is working closely with patients, local representatives and partner organisations to understand the potential impact of any decision in relation to practice.

“In the meantime, patients are able to continue to access services from the practice as usual and will be notified in due course of any changes. The area team remains committed to ensuring that patients continue to be able to access quality primary care services and would encourage them to share their views on the proposals via the engagement process.”