Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, took the opportunity at Prime Minister’s question time this afternoon to raise his concerns over the uncertainty surrounding the future of Slaidburn Health Centre. The centre, which is currently a 5-day-a-week service, recently announced that East Lancashire Medical Services (ELMS) are unable to maintain the practice beyond March 2019.
Mr Evans joined a meeting of the Patient Participation Group, CCG Commissioners and ELMS representatives last Thursday to hear the concerns of the patient body and discuss the future of the centre – around 150 people attended the meeting. East Lancs CCG and ELMS are currently seeking a long-term solution to keep the centre open full time.
Questioning the Prime Minister, Mr Evans said:
“Slaidburn Health Centre serves 1,100 people in the village and surrounding rural areas, it is well used and well loved by an aging population. The contract is up for renewal and people do really fear the salami slicing of services or even worse the closure.
“So will the Prime Minister publicly give her support to Health Services like Slaidburn and say that either a reduction of services, or indeed even worse closure, would be totally unacceptable?”
The Prime Minister responded:
“Can I say to my Rt Hon friend, first of all I am aware of the issues with Slaidburn County Practice and of course we are aware of the pressures facing GPs. That is why there is going to be a major new investment in primary and community health care – this is an important element of our NHS that has been set out in the long term plan.
“In the event of a practice closure, of course what NHS England does is assess the need for a replacement provider before dispersing the list of patient who are at that GP surgery. I understand in relation to Slaidburn Health Centre that discussions are ongoing in relation to the future of the practice and the local CCG are currently exploring options.”
The practice is currently open as usual and the patient list will be updated of any developments. East Lancashire CCG are working with ELMS to ensure that there is no disruption to the practice, and that it remains open until a new provider is found.