Sunderland medical practice faces closure

Monkwearmouth Health Centre, Dundas Street, Sunderland
Monkwearmouth Health Centre, Dundas Street, Sunderland
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THOUSANDS of people who use a city health centre could be looking for a new surgery after closure plans were announced.

Patients at Wearside Medical Practice, which is based at Monkwearmouth Health Centre, in Dundas Street, have been sent a letter saying it is due to close at the end of 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.

Despite patients getting the letter saying the centre is to close, bosses say the final decision has not been made yet and a review is ongoing.

Pensioner Malcolm Cummings has been a patient at the practice for his entire life and will now have to find an alternative.

“We’ll all have to change to another practice of course, but I think what is happening is they are removing our choice,” said the 74-year-old.

“The smaller practices, like this one, they seem to be doing away with, so we’ll end up being shoved into the bigger practices.

“It’ll not be long before we’re all at places with 50 doctors where you see a different person every time you have an appointment.”

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 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.”