Following the announcement of the deferment of the closure of Putnoe Walk-in Centre, HOBH member, Jacqui Liveston created a petition objecting to the closure.
On 24th January there was an announcement that the closure of the walk-in centre would be deferred until October 2018.
One 25th January HOBH attended a Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) governance meeting, at which we had the pleasure of handing in the nearly 6000 signature petition.
There was an ensuing discussion by the BCCG on the plans for urgent Primary Care in Bedford. There was a presentation by the BCCG followed by remarks from the GPs present. There was then an opportunity for the public to ask questions but this was limited and very few questions were answered satisfactorily in our view.
NHS England requires that all hospitals develop and operate Urgent Treatment Centres (UTC) at hospital sites
The decision was made to close the walk-in centre and relocate the service to the grounds of Bedford Hospital, co-locating with existing GP services in the Cauldwell Centre
Additional provision of simple diagnostic services like blood and urine tests and xrays will be added
It is envisaged that A&E demand will be reduced as some cases will be quickly triaged and routed to the UTC
Conversely if a patient attends the UTC and requires acute admission, the patient can quickly and efficiently be routed there
It was pointed out by members of the public that given the growing population, the increase in patients with chronic conditions with co-morbidity, that rather than shifting care to a different location, we should be looking at expanding capacity by adding the UTC to our existing Primary Care capabilities rather than replacing it.
Concerns around the move:
Capacity – anywhere between 60 and 100 patients per day use the Putnoe Walk-in centre. Will there be capacity to add the demand from Putnoe to the UTC?
Parking – parking is extremely limited at the site and what there is, is very expensive
Transport – Public transport to the proposed site is extremely limited to non-existent depending on your location
To mitigate the concerns, GPs are working at providing extended access to GPs. Options are being explored and work has been going on for some time:
Extended means that patients will be able to access care out of hours, 7 days and at short notice
Given that there is a 24% shortage of GPs in the area and GPs are ageing, other options are being looked at in terms of workforce management. Such as reducing the reliance on GPs and making use less qualified staff such as prescribing nurses and nurse practitioners (as per the current walk-in clinic)
As a group we need to ensure that this does not result in reduced quality of care, although this is not a given as this change can be successful if done well
Change could be beneficial as ‘walk-in’ care could be provided all over Bedford however we believe that this is optimistic.
Many councillors were present, as was MP Mohammed Yasin – Bedford & Kempston (Labour), Mayor Dave Hodgson (Lib Dem).
Conspicuous by his absence was MP Alistair Burt – NE Beds (Conservative) many of whose constituents would be affected by this change.
There are some questions outstanding and we expect a formal response:
Will the new facility be operated by Virgincare as Virgincare operate the GPs at Cauldwell?
What will be the success criteria that will demonstrate that comparable or better care will be available when the Urgent Treatment Centre and the Extended Hours process have been implemented? W
What are the plans to address the parking situation?
Submitted by Graham Tranquada:
Where was the public consultation on the closure of the walk-in facility?
Is this because it is a private contract and not run by CCG and there is no requirement for consultation?
Why was no replacement service sought and got ready for implementation at March 2018?
Who was responsible for overseeing this situation and at what point was it known a failure was going to happen?
The walk-in centre is popular, easy to use, child friendly, accessible and parking is free.
It is suggested by the press that the replacement service will be an Urgent Treatment Centre at Bedford Hospital.
Have you ever tried to park at Bedford Hospital? Cars are all over the place and parked outside marked bays.
It is expensive to park at Bedford Hospital. Have you considered pensioners, low wage earners or unemployed? They will have travel problems accessing a Urgent Treatment Centre.
It is reported the Urgent Treatment Centre will not be operating for at least six months, what sort of planning is that?
What are the users of the walk-in centre going to use in that time period, presumably join the queue at over already stretched services at doctors and A & E.
What is the implication for A&E service Bedford in future with the opening of a Urgent Treatment Centre next door?
What is happening to the staff at Putnoe walk-in centre and where are the new staff coming from for the Urgent Treatment Centre?
We will provide further updates as we have them.