Opinion: Stand up for services

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Today The Star is celebrating a true victory for people power after the combined efforts of patients at the Westfield Health Centre saved it from the brink of closure.

Only a month ago, NHS England was claiming that the ‘only realistic option’ available to health bosses was to close the centre at the end of December after its sole GP retired.

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But they have been forced into a rethink by the public outcry from the surgery’s 2,000 patients – who organised protests and public meetings to save the site.

Now, with seven potential providers expressing an interest in taking over the facility, the dramatic turnaround is almost complete.

While NHS England must be given credit for eventually listening to public opinion, the organisation should face serious questions on why it was initially willing to let the facility close.

With NHS budgets under ever-increasing pressure, the sad reality is that the fight to save the Westfield facility is unlikely to be a one-off.

Hopefully, as tough decisions are made in future patients can be properly consulted beforehand rather than having to protest to protect much-needed services.