top of page

Advertise Here.

Read Full Story Here...
Formby School of Dancing & Perfoming Arts new banner.jpg

MP Bill Esterson and local campaigners are celebrating victory after Hightown Surgery's future i

SEFTON Central MP Bill Esterson and local campaigners are celebrating victory after Hightown Surgery's future was secured, but the MP said the process had been "badly handled" by NHS England. NHS England confirmed that the Hightown practice would be staying open, just weeks after writing to patients telling them it was shutting. MP Bill Esterson said this was thanks to Chapel Lane surgery in Formby stepping in at the 11th hour and for the hard work of the whole community in Hightown for refusing to accept the decision. Patients were shocked to receive a letter at the end of February informing them that the surgery was due to close on June 8 after NHS England broke its promise to find a new provider for the GP practice. MP Bill Esterson, along with Sefton Borough and Hightown Parish Council councillors and local residents, immediately opposed the closure, accusing NHS England of not doing enough to secure its future as they had promised. This week (Tuesday 27th March) the MP received a phone call from NHS England to say a new provider had been found and the future of the surgery was secure. Formby's Chapel Lane surgery will operate the practice as a "branch". Bill Esterson MP said: "It is a testament to the passion and depth of feeling displayed that this campaign to keep Hightown surgery open has been successful and in such a short space of time. Special thanks go to resident Andy Farquhar who organised the campaign and to everyone who supported Andy. Thanks also to Chapel Lane surgery for stepping in." "This has been very badly handled by NHS England. They put the future of the surgery at risk by writing to patients to say the surgery was definitely closing when clearly they had not explored all the options. It beggars belief that NHS England did not find out from Chapel Lane surgery that they were prepared to take on the Hightown surgery. Had NHS England done so they could have avoided the distress which was caused to so many patients at the news that the surgery was to close. Thankfully it is good news and we should celebrate the fact that it is good news." "As soon as the letter went out to patients, I wrote to NHS England and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ask that they do more to search for a provider as the people of Hightown need a surgery. There are many elderly people who simply could not travel to either Formby or Crosby and it was causing great distress. I have been in regular telephone contact with NHS England demanding that every avenue is explored." "NHS England had advised patients to find a new surgery, or they were told they would be allocated to another surgery by NHS England. As time went on more patients would have left leaving the practice unviable. It was imperative that a new provider was found quickly. So I was delighted that after weeks of pressure on NHS England they announced that Chapel Lane surgery would be taking over." Hightown surgery was left without a provider in 2016 after the unpopular private firm SSP had their contract withdrawn following an "Inadequate" rating from the CQC. Patients at the surgery had complained that they struggled to get appointments and that only locum doctors were ever in attendance. After SSP were removed, Ashurst Health, which runs Formby's Village Surgery, was operating the practice, but they informed NHS England that they would not continue past the end of this month. NHS England said that despite a national procurement process they were unable to find a new provider. Mr Esterson said: "NHS England say they searched nationwide for a provider yet have now found one just a few miles down the road. They wrote to me to say that a branch surgery was not being considered because Ashurst had said they weren't interested in that option. Yet it seems other practices weren't approached on the same terms. I am pleased with the eventual outcome but this whole process could have been far better handled by NHS England." "The way this Conservative Government, along with the Lib Dems before them, has re-organised our NHS has caused real problems for patients. A village like Hightown should never have been put in a position where it could lose its surgery." "Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make sure the surgery was saved. I am very pleased at the outcome but questions need to be asked about how NHS England and the government have handled this whole saga." TOP PIC shows: MP Bill Esterson in Hightown where the surgery has been saved from closure

This is the Newsletter/Leaflet that was sent out to residents:

The fight to retain GP services at Hightown Village Surgery is, sadly, still ongoing. The Hightown Village Surgery Working Group (Karl Brennan, Tim Asbury, Andrew Farquhar, Rosemary Petty and Ellis Hall-Lyon) and Hightown Parish Council, believe that the surgery is vital for the future welfare of the village and its residents, particularly the most vulnerable members of our community, the elderly and young children. It is imperative that we secure these essential GP services.

NHS England have made the decision to close Hightown Village Surgery on 8th June 2018 and will shortly contact all patients of the surgery, to inform them of this and their intention to disperse the patient list to local surgeries. We would urge patients to stay registered with Hightown Village Surgery whilst we resolve this matter.

Over the last couple of years, we have all fought extremely hard to save Hightown Village Surgery. Following the public listening events last year and the overwhelmingly unanimous verdict from patients that the surgery was essential for the village, combined with the fact that attending other surgeries via public transport is an impossibility (particularly for elderly residents), NHS England agreed that Hightown Village Surgery would remain open and that a new provider would be found to provide essential GP services in Hightown.

On 16th May 2017, Karl Brennan, Chairman, Hightown Parish Council and Ellis Hall-Lyon met with Graham Urwin, Director of Commissioning Operations NHS England Cheshire and Merseyside, to discuss the future procurement of Hightown Village Surgery. Mr Urwin agreed, during the meeting, that a potential provider would be paid 15% above the standard GMS rate (money paid per patient) and that additional fees could also be provided to help, for a defined period of time, to secure stability for the new GP provider of Hightown Village Surgery.

Mr Urwin was also interested in the unique use of Hightown Village Surgery as an “overflow” surgery, due to its convenient location directly on the Northern Railway Line.

The surgery could potentially provide GP services to patients in close proximity is to railway stations along the Northern Line. It was also discussed that this innovative use of Hightown Village Surgery would also help surrounding surgeries that are struggling with capacity issues. This idea was also discussed in great detail, in a separate meeting, with Dr Nial Leonard.

Quotation of the minutes for the meeting on 16th May 2017: “Mr Urwin stated that in light of the issues raised, his staff would recommend to the CCG Sub-committee t at the market is tested, encouraging an innovative partnership approach. Mr Urwin stated that there was potential f some flexibility around the financial envelope for contracts. Mr Urwin noted that a balance is required between patient access and value for money and therefore for the right proposal not being held hard and fast to GMS rates.”

Unfortunately, NHS England offered no incentive or additional percentage increase to the GMS rates during the recent procurement process. It is for this reason that the present caretaker provider, Ashurst Health, felt that it was not financially beneficial for them to bid to provide GP services in Hightown. This is almost certainly the reason why only a single GP service provider bid to provide services from Hightown, but then subsequently ‘withdrew’ their bid.

On 25th October 2017 NHS Property Services officially signed a five year lease with Mr Hall-Lyon, to rent the provided an insurance indemnity policy to NHS Property Services to ensure that they would provide monies to NHS Property Services for both rental and maintenance expenses for the contract term.

Councillor John J. Kelly has confirmed that NHS England have been made aware that any significant changes to GP service provisions in Hightown must pass through the Overview Health and Scrutiny Committee before any decisions can be finalised. Quite clearly, NHS England have bypassed this committee whilst making this most recent decision regarding Hightown Village Surgery. Mr Kelly is presently challenging this situation and wishes to discuss this matter with NHS England within a Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting before any decision can be made.

Mr Bill Esterson MP has informed Karl Brennan that he will be taking this matter up with Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary. Mr Esterson has also confirmed that he is in full support of the retention of Hightown Village Surgery and will fight with patients and residents, to secure GP services in Hightown.

We will continue to fiercely oppose the closure of Hightown Village Surgery and it is our intention to request a further, more visible procurement process to be undertaken with the appropriate financial incentives that were promised by Mr Urwin, in place, in order to ensure a provider is found. Again, we would urge patients to stay registered with Hightown Village Surgery whilst we resolve this matter. Even in the worst case scenario, if the surgery does close on 8th June and you are moved to a surgery by NHS England that is not of your preference, any patient has the right to move to which ever surgery they desire. Jan Leonard has confirmed that the majority of surgeries in this area have an open patient list and will therefore not refuse any patients.

Even if you are not a patient at Hightown Village Surgery, the closure of the surgery in Hightown, coupled with Seftons extensive house building plans will certainly create a significant impact on all patient access to the already struggling GP services in both Formby and Crosby.

If you wish to support the retention of Hightown Village Surgery, we urge you to write, email and/or telephone the five people listed below, to ensure Hightown Village Surgery is saved and that a further more appropriate procurement process is initiated to find a suitable GP provider.

  • For anyone that requires help or does not have the facility to send emails, please contact:

Andrew Farquhar 0151 924 4247 or 07540 789823 and he can arrange to help sending information.

  • Richard Barker NHS England, North Regional Director Tel: 0113 825 3011 / 07901 514943

  • Jan Leonard Chief Commissioning Office & Redesign, Southport and Formby CCG

Jan.leonard@southportandformbyccg.nhs.u Tel: 01704 387034 / 07826 903286

  • Glenn Coleman NHS England, Head of Primary care Tel: 01 8253522 ( t 53522) / 07887 653257

  • John Joseph Kelly Councillor

  • Bill Esterson MP

GA Bathrooms.jpeg
BLD Studio.png
Large Square Advert.jpg
Silver and Rose Opticians square.jpg
square with Hot Tub.jpg
Square Advert 1.jpg
Square Advert.jpg
Silver and Rose ....png
square with Hot Tub.jpg
BLD Studio.png
Large Square Advert.jpg

Submit Your News to Formby Bubble

Contact us with your Community News, Business or Sports News. 

Phone our Newsdesk on: 01704 86 30 30 






Please submit your news story to, the biggest news outlet for Formby with over 40,000 individual hits on our website every month and over 500,000 page views!

  • Instagram
  • Facebook App Icon
  • Twitter App Icon
Featured Stories
Banner with Hot Tub.jpg
bottom of page