TV star joins the battle as 1,000 sign petition to save town GP centre
TELEVISION star Robert Lindsay has signed a petition calling for a GP surgery and walk-in centre to remain open.
Fourteen jobs will be lost when the Ilkeston Family Practice closes next February.
It has more than 1,500 registered patients but health trust NHS Derbyshire County said the decision to close it had been made by "mutual consent".
It said this was to reduce duplication of services – the practice was opened in 2009 at a time when there were no extended hours available at GP surgeries.
But members of the Save Ilkeston GP campaign said the closure would have a "huge impact" on Ilkeston and surrounding areas and have started up a petition against the closure.
The practice is on the site of Ilkeston Community Hospital but is not part of it and health bosses have said services at the hospital are unaffected.
But Mr Lindsay, who was born in Ilkeston and is known for his roles in television shows such as My Family, said he was disturbed by the news.
Signing his name on the petition, he wrote: "Ilkeston is my home town of which I have very fond memories.
"I have watched, over the years, the town suffer with cutbacks and its status slowly decline – most notably when its railway station was taken away but this... is the last straw. The NHS walk-in centre should not be closed."
Campaign organiser Amanda Jackson said he was one of 1,000 people to sign the petition.
She said: "We are delighted Robert has taken time out of his busy schedule to back our campaign.
"The centre is a vital service to the people of Ilkeston and surrounding areas and this needs to be recognised.
"It is disappointing the closure was announced without any prior consultation with patients.
"Hopefully, our voices will now be heard and the decision will be overturned."
Vikki Taylor, director of commissioning for NHS Derbyshire County, said the trust planned to hold two open meetings to discuss the closure – one later this month and another in January.
She said: "It's clear many people have found the services useful. However, the number of patients using the services is less than half the expected number.
"This is largely due to the extension of GP hours in practices across Erewash since the practice was opened.
"Because of these low numbers of patients – both registered and walk in – NHS Derbyshire had to review the contract with the Ilkeston Family Practice. Given numbers were not reaching the levels expected, it was mutually agreed to end it early."
For more information about the campaign, visit www.saveilkestongp.co.uk.