Campaigners call for re-think over plans to offer urgent care services from just one site in Sunderland
Campaigners are calling for health bosses to re-think plans to offer urgent care services at just one site in Sunderland.
Currently, patients can go for treatment on injuries which are not life-threatening at primary care centres in Houghton, Washington and Bunny Hill.
New plans proposed by the city’s Clinical Commissioning Group, would see urgent care services only be available at Pallion Health Centre - which is next to Sunderland Royal Hospital - and some GP practices offering urgent and planned appointments on evenings and weekends.
People will be assessed by their practice or 111 to decide if they need to be seen at their own practice for continuity of care or if they can be seen at the Sunderland Extended Access Service.
Campaigners are calling for the plans to be ditched over concerns as to how far patients, particularly the elderly and those relying on public transport, will have to travel.
NHS bosses say that the changes are because patients find the current system “confusing” and involve “investing money in a different way”.
Labour councillor Kevin Johnston, who represents Copt Hill ward in Houghton, is leading a campaign alongside residents who want the urgent care services at the primary care sites.
“We’re concerned that people for example might have a twisted ankle and they’ve got to go as far as Pallion to get treatment on it,” he said.
“There is also the idea of having GPs working late, but this area has a real shortage of GPs so where are they going to find them from.
“And in any case a GP isn’t going to be able to anything with those kinds of injuries. “A patient in that situation may well have to get to Pallion via an ambulance and that service is already severely stretched.”
He added: “Already we’ve had 3,500 people sign up to our petition to keep the Houghton service open.
“People in my area are saying to me ‘we can’t lose this’.
“We feel if the urgent care side is taken away we think eventually that will mean further things will go.”
Urgent care services provide access to medical care to minor injuries and minor ailments.
They are separate from A&E services which provide emergency care for people with life-threatening conditions.
Ann Fox, Director of nursing, quality and safety at Sunderland CCG said: “People have told us they find the current system confusing and are not always sure where to go to get the care they need.
“We want to make it easy and simple to access NHS services wherever you live in Sunderland.
“To do this we need to make some changes to current services to make sure people get the right care as quickly as possible.
“By investing money in a different way, we can provide NHS services that make it easier for people to get the right treatment in the right place.
“There will also be more appointments available in GP practices because of the improvements that we are planning on making.
“This review is an opportunity for local people to have their say on potential changes to services provided outside of hospital.
“It’s important that people get involved in this urgent care work.
“Meantime, the CCG will continue to work with its existing service providers and partners to ensure that residents of Sunderland continue to receive high quality healthcare both now and in the future.”
A consultation over the plans is open and will remain so until August 12 with no decision to be made until after it has reviewed the feedback.
There is a printed or online survey available via www.sunderlandccg.nhs.uk and people can get hold of a paper copy by calling (0191) 217 2670.
An online question and answer events will run from Thursday, June 21, from 6.30pm to 7pm and Thursday, June 28, from 6.30pm to 7pm.
A number of have already taken place with others to follow.
* Thursday, June 7, from noon to 2pm at the Enterprise Suite, Hope Street Exchange, 1-3 Hind Street, Sunderland.
* Wednesday, June 13, from 2pm to 4pm at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), Enterprise Park East, Wearfield, Sunderland.
* Monday, June 18, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm, at Sunderland Bangladeshi International Centre, 30 Tatham Street, Sunderland.
* Saturday, June 23, from 10am to noon at Bede Tower.
* Monday, July 2, from 5pm to 7pm, at The Glebe Centre, Durham Place, Murton.
* Monday, July 16 from 6pm to 8pm, Roberts Lounge, Boldon Community Association, New Road, Boldon Colliery.