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Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Democrats

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Heaton Medical Centre move risks reducing access to GP services

December 1, 2009 12:20 PM

Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone has warned NHS bosses that proposals to relocate Heaton Medical Centre's GP practice to the Walkergate Hospital site should only proceed if there is clearly demonstrable public support.

Proposals have been announced for a modern facility with expanded capacity to be built on the Walkergate site, replacing the current facility on Heaton Road, but Greg Stone is concerned that the move may make it harder for many people to access a GP service.

People are being invited to view plans and comment on the proposed relocation of Heaton Road Medical Centre at a number of drop in sessions in Newcastle and North Tyneside.

Greg Stone said "As a North Heaton councillor I receive a very large number of complaints from residents that it is already very difficult to access the Walkergate Hospital site by public transport since the 49 bus service was withdrawn. I know councillors in Walkergate also are aware of problems in this regard. I am very concerned that the proposal to relocate the service will disadvantage people without their own transport, and feel it is potentially counter-productive given that there is just one GP surgery in the area north of the Coast Road.

Whilst I acknowledge that the Heaton Medical Centre's staff may feel that it would be desirable to move to a higher quality facility offering more services, I would be reluctant to support a change unless it was clearly supported by local residents. The existing site is close to the district heart, customer service centre, and local pharmacy, and is easily accessible from the number 1 bus route which serves most of the Heaton and High Heaton areas. It is also more convenient for people living in the Byker area.

I will be making urgent representations to the Primary Care Trust and to the city council's NHS scrutiny committee to raise these concerns on behalf of local residents. If this move results in reduced access to GP services, I will not be able to support it. If however a regular north-south public transport service was reinstated along Benfield Road on the 3/49 route, it may become more of a possibility. The other option would be to create a new practice on the Benfield Road site, serving the interests of the Walkergate community, and retaining the Heaton Road surgery."