Proposed closure of town clinic comes back under the microscope

Published Thursday, 16th September 2021

The proposed closure of a town medical practice will be back in the spotlight next week at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee.

Hartfields Medical Practice at Hartfields Extra Care Village has been temporarily closed since March last year due to the pandemic and the McKenzie Group, which runs the practice, intends to apply to NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group to close it permanently and bring services together at its other sites in the town.

To inform this application process, the McKenzie Group has undertaken a period of patient and stakeholder engagement to gather people’s views.

The Audit and Governance Committee submitted its response at the end of last month, objecting to the closure.

The Committee will meet again on Thursday 23rd September at 1pm to hear the full results of the McKenzie Group’s engagement process and consider any further action.

A limited number of members of the public will be able to attend the meeting with spaces being available on a first come, first served basis, and those wishing to attend should phone (01429) 523568 or (01429) 523019 by midday on 22nd September.

Councillor Rob Cook, Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, said: “I would like to thank everyone who attended, or otherwise submitted evidence to, our meeting on 27th August when we met to formulate our response to the proposed closure.

“We subsequently wrote to the McKenzie Group to express our view that access to GP services is a fundamental right and the closure of the Hartfields Medical Practice would not be in the best interests of those patients registered at the practice or those registered with the wider McKenzie Group.

“The needs of patients are paramount and we felt consideration had not been given to the implications for vulnerable residents living in Hartfields and the wider community in accessing GP and prescription services, particularly in terms of difficulties in accessing transport and having to increasingly rely on digital access for prescriptions.

“We also feel the new housing planned for the area supports the need for retaining the practice, and we are concerned that options have not been explored for providing alternative accommodation on the Hartfields site to meet the McKenzie Group’s requirements and allow the surgery to stay in its current location.

“Furthermore, in our view the engagement process has been flawed, with indications that not all residents received letters about this or had the appropriate technology, such as computers, to respond to the engagement.

“We have therefore invited the McKenzie Group back to our meeting on the 23rd to present the full results of the engagement, following which the Committee will consider any further action.”

The Committee’s written response to the McKenzie Group can be viewed in full at