Councillors back patients’ campaign for GP practice

Patients outside Buckshaw Village Surgery
Patients outside Buckshaw Village Surgery

Patients campaigning in support of a village health centre have received the backing of Chorley Council.

A motion was carried at last Tuesday’s full council meeting supporting Buckshaw Patient Participation Group.

It follows NHS England’s announcement it would not automatically renew the contract for Buckshaw Village Surgery, but instead put it out for tender.

Buckshaw Patient Participation Group wants a consultation to be held with patients.

More than 700 people have signed their petition and members were due to meet NHS England yesterday.

The motion, put forward by Labour councillor Bev Murray, supported the group’s efforts to oppose the ending of the contract.

It said the Government was “putting dogma before common sense insisting that all NHS contracts go out to tender” and supported the work of the MP, councillors and residents to “protect the current service.”

Coun Murray said: “NHS England publicly stated that a contract has to go out to tender.

“We believe this is a farce and strikes at the very heart of provision of first-class healthcare in the community.”

Coun Steve Holgate seconded the motion, saying: “It is quite shameful. It’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Coun Mark Perks, Conservative leader and a Buckshaw councillor, proposed an amendment to the motion.

It stated the council supported the patients’ group “in their efforts to be recognised and consulted on the proposals” but did not include any criticism of his own Government.

He said: “Quite clearly the main message that patients want to hear is that we support them whole-heartedly in their campaign and that’s why I am moving this amendment.

“I am not going to get into a battle about national government.”

Coun Paul Leadbetter, deputy Conservative leader, seconded the amendment and thanked everyone who had signed the petition.

But Coun Perks’ amendment did not receive the support of the Labour councillors.

Coun Graham Dunn said: “We need to congratulate him on a neat attempt to side-step the issue and support both sides.”

Votes saw the amended motion fail and Coun Murray’s original motion carried.

After the meeting, Sarah Riggott, co-chairman of Buckshaw Patient Participation Group, said: “We are a non-political group campaigning for and on behalf of the patients of Buckshaw Village Surgery.

“We appreciate the help and support we have received from everyone thus far and genuinely hope that party politics will not detract from our campaign going forward.”

Lindsay Hoyle, Chorley’s MP, has since written to the chief executive of NHS England asking for the tendering process to be stopped.

The Guardian contacted NHS England about the motion, but at the time of going to press, no-one from the organisation was available to provide a comment.