Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has described the reinstatement of some services at a Northumberland surgery as a ‘good conclusion for now’.
Earlier this week, NHS England announced that two half-day GP sessions and two half-day nurse sessions will operate, per week, at Harbottle Surgery, from October 19.
The site was controversially closed at the end of August after a bombshell announcement by NHS England, which said it was forced to shut the premises ‘in the interests of public safety’ after Dr Rina Miah took the sudden decision not to continue with her contract and was unable to provide GP cover for the surgery.
The decision sparked a major public outcry and concerned residents pleaded with health chiefs to give the surgery another chance. This week’s announcement was greeted with a mixed reaction from locals, who are pleased that some services are being reinstated, but believe the plans do not go far enough.
Under the proposals, Harbottle will operate as a branch surgery of The Rothbury Practice, so all patients wishing to access appointments will need to live in The Rothbury Practice catchment area and register with the main surgery.
Patients who do not live within The Rothbury Practice catchment area will need to register with an alternative practice, such as Bellingham. Arrangements have been made for patients who live in the Upper Coquetdale area, who do not live within any other practice boundaries, to register with Rothbury.
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.
Reacting to the news, Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “It is a good conclusion for now. It is good news for all those living in the Valley and I will be keeping on top of the consultation process which will start and then the full tender for a permanent contract next year. This has been a gruelling few weeks for everyone and I am pleased that we have services back into the Harbottle site before winter sets in.”
Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board has been working closely with partners on solutions and the potential return of GP services to the village.
Chairman of the board, Coun Scott Dickinson, said: “We welcome the announcement and are pleased a local solution has been found for the residents of Harbottle. We have worked together with the residents, interest groups and partners to find a solution so this is good news for Harbottle and the surrounding area.”