Protestors took to the streets of Liverpool city centre in a bid to rally support for a threatened medical centre.
With weeks until the scheduled closure of Park View Medical Centre in Tuebrook, patients and campaigners took to Renshaw Street to stage a demonstration outside the offices of the NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB). Thousands of patients at Park View could be transferred to alternative locations after it was confirmed the ICB had been unable to find a new provider to keep the surgery open.
Despite a lengthy campaign, the ICB said earlier this year, a tender process had been unsuccessful and a decision had been made to close Park View at the end of its current contract.
Earlier this month, NHS bosses confirmed the day Park View would shut should no alternative be found. Mark Bakewell, interim director of place for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, told Liverpool’s health and wellbeing board it had been a “difficult decision” for health chiefs.
Mr Bakewell added how disposal of the site, which includes other NHS buildings on Orphan Drive, was arranged for August 1. In a demonstration this afternoon, campaigners – equipped with whistles and a loud hailer – passed out fliers to passersby, calling on drivers to honk their horns in support.
Among those in attendance was Jimmy Woods, chair of the patients’ participation group (PPG) which was born out of the decision to close the surgery. He told the LDRS how members of the community had come out to oppose the shutting of their “wonderful surgery.”
Mr Woods, along with Tuebrook Cllrs Steve Radford and Billy Lake, passed a 2,000-strong petition to the ICB and requested a face-to-face meeting in a bid to discuss the future of the site. He added: “We’re not going away, we’re staying put and the fight goes on.”
The fight to save Park View has now been taken to Parliament with Ian Byrne, Labour MP for West Derby, tabling an early day motion last week. Mr Byrne’s motion called on the House to note with “deep concern” the proposed closure and recognise “the medical centre has been at the centre of the community for decades and provides vital primary care services to constituents in one of the most deprived areas of Liverpool.
It added a call for the Department of Health to support the wishes of the local community and to take all steps available to keep the Park View Medical Centre open to “protect the health and wellbeing of the whole community and future generations.”
A spokesperson for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside said, “In 2022, we ran a procurement process to find new providers for a number of fixed-term GP practice contracts, including Park View Medical Centre, as these time-limited contracts were coming to an end in March 2023.
“We were committed to finding new providers for these services, but unfortunately we were not able to secure a provider for Park View Medical Centre. We explored a number of options to keep the practice running, but unfortunately none of these have been viable, and our priority now must be to make sure that patients continue to have access to good local GP services from 1st August.
“We are writing to everyone registered with Park View Medical Centre, letting them know which GP practice they will be transferred to. We’ve worked closely with other local GP practices to ensure that patients are given a place at the practice closest to their home address. The letter patients receive will include details of a phoneline and drop-in session for anyone with further questions.”