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Midlands council considers co-locating libraries and GP services

A council in the midlands is considering running libraries and GP services out of the same premises to protect services amid 30% spending cuts.

The proposal was put forward at a recent meeting of Shropshire Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, and would see new “health hubs” that would offer general library services and internet access while also being the base for an NHS community care co-ordinator.

The Shropshire Star reports that the idea has been backed in principal by officials at Shropshire Council, subject to further talks taking place with healthcare representatives.

The health hubs have been proposed as a way to find new housing for under-threat libraries at the same time as overhauling NHS services, under a local programme to redesign NHS hospital and community services.

If nothing is done 22 libraries in the area face the axe in the council’s planned spending cuts.

David Sandbach, a former chief officer at the Royal Princess Hospital in Telford, suggested that the Pontesbury Library could be saved by the approach.

He suggested the library service could be housed in an extension to Pontesbury Medical Practice, in the redundant dental surgery next door, or even as a new-build on land close by, bank-rolled by the sale of the current building.

George Candler, Shropshire Council’s director of commissioning, said: “We are more than happy to explore that option with key stakeholders, but we would obviously need all of those key people around the table including those from the GP surgery.

“We want our redesigned libraries and customer service points to be places that support early conversations with local residents that give them the best possible chance of accessing the support that they need within their communities.

“The library service is already developing ‘health zones’ within its libraries, places that bring together a range of resources.

“In principle libraries can be a part of Future Fit Plans to develop health hubs, although this is likely to be something considered on a locality by locality basis.”

A spokesperson for Shropshire CCG said they would be happy to discuss the proposal when the council takes it further.

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Terry King   05/11/2015 at 15:35

We already have a shared rural library and doctors surgery which came about from financial pressure on the library and a doctor practice threatening to withdraw through financial pressures. It works well in Ketton in Rutland, while in Ryhall we have community volunteers stepping into the breach.

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