SANDIWAY Surgery has been granted a stay of execution until February by NHS Cheshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at a crucial committee meeting.

The surgery’s operators, Danebridge Medical Practice, applied to close the Sandiway site in September following a patient consultation before the Covid-19 outbreak.

However, today’s final-decision meeting of NHS Cheshire’s primary care committee felt they were unable to have a final say with the information presented to them.

Neil Evans, CCG Executive Director of Planning & Delivery, said: “People of Sanidway do not understand what this would mean to them. That bit of work in the middle [focus groups cancelled by the pandemic] would have made it easier to say yes or no.”

Lay member Suzanne Horrill added: “The practice could have done a little bit better to address those concerns. I do feel the practice has not helped themselves with the way they have done this.

“I am not saying they have not got a case but it is not what has been presented.”

Ms Horrill referred to the fact the committee felt there was a justifiable business case for closing the surgery, but the application to shut it down did not explicitly reference that.

Arguing in favour of the closure, Danebridge representative Dr Mike Mullen said: “A CQC visit was a catalyst for us looking at the closure of Sandiway. The building is quite old and it is not fit for purpose. Rooms are very small — consultation is an issue as the walls are very thin.

“Staff working at the practice are often alone. Doctors at the surgery are often junior doctors and they do not like working on their own in our experience.

“Now we are doing things very differently [in the pandemic]. We have worked out we are seeing 20 per cent of our patients face to face and the rest remotely.”

Responding to Dr Mullen’s points, John Kerrigan from the Save Our Surgery action group, said: “79 per cent of village respondents to a Danebridge survey said no to the closure. We are asking for someone to modernise an existing asset.

“It is about putting right what is already there. The CQC downgraded the practice because of management and leadership issues facing the whole practice — not Sandiway.

“Why does it have to be a junior doctor working alone? It's a management decision to do it that way. 

“This is a surgery, not a retail outlet. You can go online for Marks and Spencers, but not for every medical need.”

The Save Our Surgery campaign attracted high profile support, with Eddisbury MP Edward Timpson writing to the committee to oppose the closure and offer his hand to help the ailing surgery.

With the deferment, the committee will now write to Danebridge bosses to ask for more information on the impact a potential closure would have on the village.

Its decision echoes a similar recommendation by the Cheshire West health scrutiny board, which felt that more work should be done in this field.

The primary care committee will meet again to discuss the closure on February 4, 2021.