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Council Joins Chorus of Concern Over GP Practice

Published Thursday, 20 June 2013

Ribble Valley Borough Council has joined the chorus of concern over proposed changes in NHS funding that could force the closure of a unique rural GP practice.

And the council is encouraging residents in the Slaidburn area to attend a public meeting on 1 July to support the practice.

Slaidburn Country Practice is one of dozens across the country relying on a "minimum income guarantee," but the payments could be phased out under new Government proposals.

If the practice closes, patients will face long journeys to see a doctor in Clitheroe or Settle in Yorkshire.

Ribble Valley borough councillor Rosie Elms, who represents the Bowland, Newton and Slaidburn ward, said: "Slaidburn Country Practice is a unique rural service and it is too much to expect people to travel to Clitheroe or even Yorkshire to see a doctor, particularly in winter, when the roads are impassable.

"Once again much-needed rural services are under threat and I am calling on local people to attend the public meeting to show their support."

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Stuart Hirst added: "We will be monitoring the situation closely and making representations to the NHS to ensure this vital rural service continues to receive the support it needs."

The Minimum Practice Income Guarantee protects rural practices whose patient lists are significantly smaller than average.

There are currently eight GP practices in Ribble Valley, covering 226 square miles, but only one in the north of the borough, at Slaidburn, which offers a satellite service at Dunsop Bridge.

Due to current levels of house building in the borough, Ribble Valley Borough Council's Local Infrastructure Plan has identified the need for an additional two GPs, as well as support and nursing staff for Clitheroe and the wider community.

The public meeting will take place at Newton Village Hall on Monday, 1 July, at 7.30pm.

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