Redcar_and_Cleveland_Borough_CouncilA PROPOSAL to close two walk-in medical centres could be referred to the Secretary of State for Health if it is not thought to be in the best interests of local people.

The South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is currently consulting on offering extended access to GP services, seven days-a-week for people across Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland.

However, by increasing its spending to offer extended access to GP services, it says it cannot sustain its walk-in centres at North Ormesby and Eston Grange.

The proposals are currently being looked at by the South Tees Health Scrutiny Joint Committee, made up of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland Councillors.

The committee can refer issues to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt if it does not think the proposals are in the best interests of the health service in the area, that not enough time has been allowed for consultation or it is not satisfied with the adequacy of the content of the consultation.

Chair of the committee, Middlesbrough Cllr Eddie Dryden said: “The committee understands why they are doing it, the system is complicated to navigate, and the CCG are responding to national policy directives but we need to ensure that it is safe and in the best interests of the South Tees population.”

Redcar & Cleveland Councillor Ian Jeffrey, Chair of the Tees Valley Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “It is really important that people take the opportunity to have their say on these proposals as they will change the way that urgent care services are delivered across the South Tees.

“We need to ensure that any proposed changes are what is best for our residents and I would urge people to go along to one of the consultation events being held to give their views.”

Three options have been put forward by the CCG, all of which would see the two walk-in centres no longer available after March 31, 2017.

The scrutiny committee will meet to receive updates on a regular basis from the CCG and seek evidence from a wide range of independent sources and stakeholders before making recommendations if appropriate.

The next meeting of the South Tees Health Scrutiny Joint Committee will be held at Middlesbrough Town Hall on a date to be fixed in February and members of the public are welcome to attend.