HEALTH professionals are being sent in to find a way to save a Ribble Valley health centre from closure.

Slaidburn Health Centre could be forced to close in the next few months after the NHS announced last year that it was removing the ‘Minimum Practice Income Guarantee’.

The rural practice relies on the funding from the guarantee and campaigners have said that the centre would have to close if it was removed.

NHS England has confirmed that the final funding decision will be taken by the Lancashire Area Team, which is connected to the national body.

The team has started a three-month consultation with patients and will inspect the practice’s finances before deciding its future. If the Townend surgery closes, more than 1,000 patients will face journeys of eight miles or more to see a GP in Clitheroe.

Residents have been campaigning against the closure since last summer and more than 2,000 people signed a petition which was presented to Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans when he visited the centre last year.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “NHS England is committed to making sure patients have access to high quality GP services wherever they live.

“This will result in fairer funding allocations for all GPs and no money will be taken away from GP services overall.

“The Lancashire Area Team is working with the practice to see how they can be supported.”

She said the decision would be made after a full assessment of all the local circumstances.

Deputy practice manager, Heather Harrison, said: “We were hoping to have a solution by now but this decision just makes it even harder to plan for the future.

“We are disappointed that this has happened because it just seems to be going on and on.”