HEALTH chiefs in south Cumbria have ruled unanimously to find a new provider for a threatened South Lakes GP Surgery.

At a meeting of Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) held yesterday morning, it was decided that the list at Goodly Dale practice would not be dispersed, as previously feared, and that the body would continue its search for a new provider to take over services at the site.

Commissioners agreed to start the procurement process for the Bowness surgery rather than to close the practice and disperse the patient list to nearby GP practices.

It is understood to be considering six separate bids to run the service currently.

Out of the 1,567 patients who took part in Morecambe Bay CGG’s consultation, 1,492 (95 per cent) of respondents said that services must remain local, with 63 per cent saying the most important aspect of GP services for them was the location of the practice.

Private provider OneMedical has served notice on its current agreement with the practice, which is due to expire next March.

The CCG's procurement process has been complicated by OneMedical's sale of the Goodly Dale premises to an external private firm.

Patients had also complained of declining care standards during an inspection which was carried out at the time OneMedical managed services at the surgery.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron welcomed yesterday's decision. Last month, he launched a petition to keep the service in the area along with Lib Dem councillors Andrew Jarvis and Dyan Jones.

Mr Farron also argued the decision to phase out the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee had left Goodly Dale, along with a number of other practices in Cumbria, in significant financial difficulties.

"I’m really glad that local health bosses have voted unanimously to find a new provider to take over the running of the Goodly Dale surgery, rather than close the surgery," he said.

“I’m really grateful to all the local residents in Windermere and Bowness who have taken part in the consultation and have signed our petition, sending an overwhelming message that services should remain at Goodly Dale.

“However, we have only cleared the first hurdle – we now need a new, local and reliable provider to take over the services.

“I will continue to work closely with the CCG and local patient groups to get the best possible outcome and I will also be lobbying the Government to reverse cuts to rural GP surgery funding which have led to many of the problems at Goodly Dale.”