A COMMUNITY is battling for services to be restored at its health centre.

A shortage of GPs and other staff means the Modality practice at Steeton is only open two mornings a week.

Now a petition, signed by more than 500 people in its first week, has been launched calling for the premises to be fully reopened.

Resident Martin Cant – who started the petition, available to sign online and at Steeton Pharmacy – says: "The health centre was closed in March 2020 due to Covid.

"Steeton and Eastburn residents have subsequently been denied access to face-to-face services from the practice. It has recently started to open two half days a week, but often fails to do so with no prior warning. And when it is open, the services provided are extremely limited.

"The current situation is affecting access to healthcare for vulnerable people in our community.

"I acknowledge the difficulties faced by Modality Partnership but in the meantime it continues to demonstrate complacency regarding the needs of people in our locality. I believe that with commitment, planning and more imaginative use of staff and resources, a full range of face-to-face services could be provided Monday to Friday.

"It is no good simply waiting for more resources to arrive and continue to fail to meet patients' needs. We are calling on Modality Partnership to work more closely with local representatives to bring the health centre into full and productive use."

Modality says it shares residents' concerns, and is trying to recruit new staff.

A spokesperson added: "Modality is a partnership of local GPs trying to provide the best services we can with the resources available.

"We believe that working together as practices gives us the best chance to provide a sustainable GP service for our communities.

"In the last few years, over 1,000 GP surgeries have closed in the UK and it is estimated we are 8,000 GPs short of what’s needed.

"Locally, we have had two GP partners retire in the past three months and we're short of salaried GPs and other practice staff as well. We are presently trying to recruit.

"Steeton Health Centre is currently open two mornings a week. Once we do have capacity and staffing, we will look to extend this.

"We only have finite resources and are offering more appointments than ever before, but we have to make decisions about how we can operate efficiently and deal with the increasing demand and complexity of healthcare.

"We have a new patient online access system coming soon and we'll be coming to Steeton to discuss how we can work together to improve services.

"Maybe the petition could go to our local MP, who is well aware of the challenges we face in trying to deliver the service patients want and our staff want to give."