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MP backs campaign to stop GP surgery closure

Formby MP, Bill Esterson has given his support to a campaign to keep Freshfield GP surgery open. The campaign has a petition which is online or can be signed in Ryder’s Chemists, next to the surgery.

Patients at Freshfield GP surgery received a letter from NHS England Director of Commissioning, Anthony Leo, which stated that “the contract with the current provider has been extended to 31 December 2017, to ensure continuity of care while we put new, longer-term arrangements in place.”

The surgery is being run by Chapel Lane surgery and Formby’s Labour MP, Bill Esterson said he shared the concerns of patients that closure of Freshfield surgery would just add to the existing difficulties in booking an appointment.

Bill Esterson MP said, “Patients are telling me that they really value the care they receive at Freshfield and that the surgery does a good job. But they also say that it can be very difficult to book an early appointment. Formby Labour Action Team is supporting the campaign to keep Freshfield open because we know that the closure would just add to the pressure on other surgeries. There have been problems with the GP surgery contracts which saw some patients leave. But patient numbers appear to have stabilised, so it would seem unwise for patients if NHS England were to close Freshfield or Hightown surgeries, both of which are under review.

Ryder’s Chemists is next door to Freshfield GP surgery and pharmacist, Martin Hough asked Bill Esterson MP to support the campaign. Mr Hough said, “I am concerned about the impact on patients if the surgery were to close. It is difficult for surgery staff to speak out, so I felt I had to help organise the campaign, which is why we are running the petition to stop the closure.”

Pharmacies also face a significant funding cut by the government and Mr Hough added, “The cut to our funding is also a big worry and we face the potential double whammy as a business of losing both the surgery and our funding.”

Bill Esterson MP said, “I am very glad that Martin Hough approached me about the petition to prevent the closure of Freshfield GP surgery. Formby residents need both GP surgeries and pharmacies to have full support from the government, yet at present there are real worries for the future of both.

“Pharmacies face significant cuts to their budgets from this government. There is also a national shortage of GPs and the government since 2010 under the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems has not trained enough doctors. Hopefully, that lesson has been learned but for now, patients in Formby need the existing surgeries and in future years, the population is set to grow anyway, thanks to a relaxation of the planning rules by the same government. Staff in our NHS do an excellent job but they need NHS England and the government to give them full backing.

“The Formby Labour Action Team and I will do all we can to support the campaign to keep Freshfield GP Practice open and to support our local pharmacies as well.”

Martin Hough from Ryders Chemist in Freshfield said: "Freshfield Surgery is under threat. If you value the surgery, please take action to make sure that you keep it. The surgery plays a vital role in the provision of healthcare to our community and we must keep it at its present site as ease of access is especially important to our elderly residents.”

Martin went on to say: “By signing the petition we can make our voices heard and if enough of us speak up then hopefully we can secure GP services in Freshfield for the foreseeable future.”

If you value your surgery, please take action to make sure you keep it.

Below is a letter to Anthony Leo of NHS England from Bill Esterson MP

Dear Mr Leo

Patients at Freshfield GP Surgery in Formby are concerned about the possibility of closure. This follows letters, which were sent to patients by you and the online petition, “Freshfield surgery is under threat”, which is on the website.

I understand that NHS England has yet to start the formal consultation but I wanted to stress to you that Freshfield surgery is well regarded and that it is already difficult to book an appointment.

Hightown surgery is in a similar position of being under threat of closure. If either or both surgeries were to close, patients would have to go to other GP practices in Formby, which are already experiencing challenges in providing enough appointments.

Please would you therefore tell me whether it would be possible to make it easier for patients to book an appointment if the surgery were to close.

There is a shortage of GP's and I appreciate that the shortage is a government responsibility. But you can help to avoid additional pressures in Formby and Hightown by keeping these surgeries open and I urge you to do so.

Bill Esterson MP

0151 531 8433

Please help Martin Hough with this campaign to keep the surgery open

Top photo: Formby Labour MP, Bill Esterson with Martin Hough and Sue Miller from Ryder’s chemist.

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