CWAC Health Scrutiny Committee member Cllr Rachel Williams said: “We have not got the power to say, ‘no you cannot do it’, so this is the road we are going down — giving residents the opportunity to speak, and giving them the opportunity to speak to the residents.”

Louise Barry, from the area’s Health Watch partnership, said the consultation process was ‘very fragmented and a little incoherent'.

John Kerrigan, spokesperson for the residents action group to save the surgery, said: “The letter [announcing the closure consultation] to patients arrived on December 21. That is a few days before Christmas — giving us to January 27 to respond is just less than six weeks.”

Danebridge Medical Practice, who applied for closure in September, did not send a representative to the meeting.

Northwich Guardian:

Sandiway surgery as it currently stands. Image: Google Streetview.

Mr Kerrrigan added that he believed the grounds for closure were not sound: “The reasons given for closure were very clear. They clearly took the decision to close Sandiway due to the CQC report which said they would need to do remediation work.

“[Danebridge] said remedying the issue would be very expensive — but no work had been costed to remediate Sandiway, only demolish and rebuild it.

“That was a £1.2 million project and we know the NHS would never respect that.”

Neil Evans, from NHS Cheshire CCG, later confirmed the cost of such a project would be £1.16 million, with work to alleviate some of the space issues inside the practice predicted to cost in the region of £250-300,000.

Following the meeting, Chair of Cuddington Parish Council, Pat Chrimes OBE said: "Sandiway surgery patients finally feel their voices have been heard.  We are delighted with the decision of [the committee] to recommend to the CCG that they postpone their decision on the closure of Sandiway surgery.

"However, we were disappointed that Danebridge Medical Practice could not find one partner willing to participate and answer the Committee’s questions.  This represents the same lack of engagement we experienced in the consultation and we are pleased that the Committee recognised this and came to the recommendation they did, and we would like to thank the committee's Chair, Cllr Kate Cernik, for allowing us to present the patients' views.”

The committee’s formal recommendation will now go to the NHS Cheshire CCG’s Primary Care commissioning committee meeting on November 5 where the surgery’s fate will be decided.