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Labour councillor welcomes news that Freshfield Surgery will remain open

Labour councillor and health campaigner Catie Page has welcomed the news that Formby’s Freshfield Surgery will remain open.

The Ravenmeols councillor, who is also chair of Sefton Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care, had vowed to fight NHS England every step of the way to keep the practice operating on its current site.

Local campaigners were rewarded last week when NHS England announced they had found a provider for the surgery: Ashurst Healthcare, who currently run the town’s Village Surgery. However, there was bad news for patients at Hightown Surgery who learned that their practice was to close.

Ravenmeols ward's Cllr Page said: “All along I said it was imperative that Freshfield surgery remained open and I am delighted that NHS England has listened to the views of the local community and has found a new provider.

“Many patients are just not able to travel and the surgery also supports the pharmacy which again is a massive community asset.

“I was instrumental in making NHS England aware of the problems with the previous provider SSP and I was pleased when their contract ended. Lots of patients left both Freshfield and Hightown surgeries because SSP were just so poor. Now Freshfield is to be taken over I know it will go from strength to strength. No provider came forward for Hightown and I know that will have a devastating impact on the community there.”

Cllr Page had numerous meetings with NHS England and asked them to appear before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee where she and other councillors relayed patients’ complaints and challenged NHS England to ensure a better service.

Cllr Page continued: “When people are ill they don’t want to be travelling long distances to see a GP, get advice or get prescriptions filled. The closure of Hightown is just another example of how Conservative Government cuts force the NHS to stop providing the service they would want to provide."

Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson said he would continue to fight to save Hightown Surgery. He wrote to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to step in to halt the closure until a provider could be found. He said: “The people of Hightown need a surgery. NHS England admitted as much in their consultation. Many elderly people find it difficult to travel and will suffer enormously through being forced to visit GPs in Formby or Crosby. I am delighted that Freshfield Surgery will remain open and it is testament to the work of Cllr Page, the pharmacist Martin Hough and other local campaigners that it will.

“But I will continue to fight for Hightown Surgery and believe NHS England should be offering an uplift in the normal rates in order to make the practice more attractive and viable.

"It is a disgrace that people in Hightown were told their surgery would be saved and that the promise was broken by the Conservative government's failure to invest in our NHS. The government has ultimate reponsibility for this shambolic treatment of residents in Hightown and I have written to both the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and to NHS England to seek a reprieve.

Even at this late stage, I am asking that at the very least NHS England tries to find someone to run the Hightown practice temporarily while another effort is made to find GPs to run the practice in the long run. It beggars belief that the community of Hightown is being abandoned by the Conservatives in this way and I simply don't accept that enough has been done to help."

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