Council to keep a close eye on Harbottle services

Harbottle Surgery.
Harbottle Surgery.

Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board has pledged to keep a close eye on future arrangements for GP services at Harbottle.

The site had closed on August 28, but a recent agreement means that Harbottle will operate as a branch surgery of The Rothbury Practice with the reinstatement of some services from October 19.

The new service will be for an initial period of 12 months, allowing NHS England and Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to carry out a detailed assessment of local primary care needs and to consult more widely on longer-term options.

Following the announcement, NHS England have worked with NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group so that patients could access alternative GP services.

And members of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board have been working closely with partners on solutions and the potential return of GP services to the village.

Coun Scott Dickinson, chairman of the health and wellbeing board in Northumberland, said at today’s meeting of the board: “We have worked closely with the residents, interest groups and partners to find a long-term solution to this issue.

“This 12 month reprieve is welcomed by me and the board but it is vital NHS England work on a sustainable outcome for the residents and patients who live in some of our most remote areas.

“I’ve asked the health and wellbeing board receive an update in six months to ensure there is a good level of scrutiny, accountability and transparency throughout this process.”

Rothbury ward coun Steven Bridgett said: “I am pleased we have had the opportunity to discuss again the issues around the closure of the Harbottle practice.

“Although I still have several reservations and concerns we have now received a commitment from NHS England to carry out a full consultation when they look to review the situation over the next 12 months.

“I would like to thank Coun Dickinson for giving us the opportunity to question NHS England and look forward to the issue coming back to the Health and Wellbeing board in six months’ time.”