Fears over proposal to relocate health centre

Patients have expressed their anger and fears over initial plans by a medical centre to move to a new site three miles away.

And councillors have condemned the proposals, saying many people will not be able to get quick access to medical care.

The concerns have been expressed after officials at the Brockwell Medical Centre, based at the Brockwell Centre in Cramlington, announced plans to relocate to the site of the new emergency care hospital on the outskirts of the town.

The centre caters for 12,700 patients in the Northburn, East Hartford and other parts of Cramlington.

But local councillor Wayne Daley says patients are going to be hit hard if the centre does move, as instead of being able to walk to the centre they will be forced

to use public transport, sometimes waiting 30 minutes for various buses.

A questionnaire has been sent out by the centre outlining the proposals but Coun Daley says only 174 replies have been received.

Coun Daley, who represents the Northburn area on Northumberland County Council, said: “I am horrified that such a vital service which is accessible on foot by old and young alike is planning to relocate to an inaccessible location at an A&E hospital.

“I have been contacted by many elderly people who simply will not be able to travel there and fear for their health.

“There are also concerns about paying for parking when it is free at the current site, already poor buses for appointments and the feeling that a local community service is shutting down to move to the outskirts of Cramlington.”

He added: “This is a local facility for local people and the plans will see it move to a site which can only be accessed by car or bus – or by walking along a dangerous dual carriageway. This is an unacceptable situation.”

Fellow county councillor Barry Flux, who represents Cramlington West, said the issue had been discussed at a care and well-being overview and scrutiny committee.

But he also hit out at the plans, saying: “I think it is absolutely crazy to move this facility in a well-used, densely populated area, to an area without associated services.”

A spokesperson for the Brockwell Medical Group said: “We are currently looking at relocating our Brockwell surgery to a bigger, modern building to accommodate for the large number of patients who are registered at the practice.

“Our proposal to build a new surgery in East Cramlington will provide the extra capacity needed so that we can not only continue to provide a good service, but also further improve our services for patients in the future.

“However, we’re aware that this proposed move could create travel issues for some people and before any final decision is made we are exploring how this issue could be addressed.

“We are surveying our patients to find out how they travel to their appointments, and have also met with the local council to discuss public transport routes to the new site. We’d welcome any patients who are worried about the possible relocation to contact us and share their views.

“We would also be happy to meet with Coun Daley. Any relocation of the practice will be subject to final approval by NHS England.”