Practice closures could be ‘catastrophic’ for County Durham

As reported by Chronicle Live, plans to close two practices in County Durham have been dubbed ‘catastrophic’

NHS bosses have warned that the closure of two GP practices in County Durham could prove ‘catastrophic’.

The Skerne Medical Group (SMG) runs four surgeries and is planning to close two of them, due to an inability to recruit new doctors.

The move would impact over 5,500 patients. Dr Stewart Findlay, the chief clinical officer of a local CCG, is calling for support before Skerne Medical Group makes a final decision.

“Our feeling is if this practice does not make the changes, there’s a real danger it will collapse,” he told Durham County Council’s Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

“And there’s other practices around which, even if they appear well staffed, could also collapse as a result.

“It could be catastrophic for the centre of County Durham [if it did collapse] and I think we have no option but to support them.”

The consultation was centred around whether Trimdon Village surgery and one other practice should close next year. Skerne has lost around a third of its total GPs since 2016.

Dr Jane Hearmon, of SMG, told the meeting: “This change is not about people losing access to GPs, it’s about ensuring all our patients can get quality medical services for the longer term.

“I’m not prepared to see our practice fall over issues to do with the buildings.

“Recent graduates going into general practice have different expectation and only by creating a larger full services structure will we be attractive to the new generation of GPs.”

Trimdon and Thornley councillor, Peter Brookes, branded the plans ‘disgraceful’ and urged a rethink.

“I’m afraid it’s rubbing salt into the wound for the people of Trimdon Village,” he said.

“It was bad enough for the 1,500 people in the village using that service, but now the others who travel to Fishburn will now have to travel to Trimdon Colliery or Sedgefield as well.

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“I don’t know how this decision can be justified on medical grounds, how can you have people in the most deprived area having to travel the furthest for their primary care?”

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