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Decisions reached following public consultation on urgent treatment centre and West Herts Medical Centre at Hemel Hempstead

Herts valleys CCG board yesterday (10 May) reached decisions on the future operating hours for the urgent treatment centre and on the future of the West Herts Medical Centre in Hemel Hempstead. The decisions were taken at a board meeting held in public following a public consultation during February and March, which attracted around 600 responses.

The urgent treatment centre will continue to operate on existing day and evening hours of 8am – 10pm and the CCG will explore the feasibility of extending the service to run until midnight following a workforce review.

The board heard about the difficulties of staffing the service during night-time hours which had led to a number of adhoc closures and then a decision to temporarily close overnight that has been in place since December 2016.

Dr Nicolas Small, chair of Herts Valleys CCG, said:

“It was good to hear the views of local people through our consultation. We recognise the high level of support - particularly those living in Hemel Hempstead – for a 24 hour service. We have made the decision not to open overnight because we need to make the best use of our local doctors – which are a scarce resource and who are busy with their own practices, covering out of hours shifts and the increasing number of evening surgeries. There was little demand for the night service when it was open for 24 hours, and the board felt retaining current hours would mean we would be making better use of GP time and creating a safer service overall. Just as they do now, residents will be able to access help overnight from GPs and other medical professionals when they need it, through NHS 111 and GP out of hours services.

“I am pleased that we have agreed to look at the feasibility of extending hours to midnight in the future and I look forward to a future board meeting where we can discuss that”.

The board also considered the other topic covered in the public consultation: the future of West Herts Medical Centre. Due to difficulties attracting bids for such a small practice of 2,400 registered patients, the board agreed not to re-procure the contract when it expires in October 2018 and instead to invite local practices to bid to open a branch surgery on the site. An extended access ‘hub’ is also intended for the Hemel Hempstead Hospital site where people will be able to see a GP during weekends, evening and bank holidays. Appointments will be bookable and will include same-day appointments.

Dr Nicolas Small said:

“It is good that we are able to come to a solution on the future of West Herts Medical Centre that means patients will get a service that is close to what they currently receive; we know, from the consultation feedback that patients value the location of the surgery and the ease of access to appointments”.

Current patients will be supported to register with an alternative practice of their choice before the current contract comes to an end in October.

Ends

For further information please contact the Herts Valleys CCG Communications and Engagement team on 01442 898888.