Axing of minor injuries service could cost lives, GPs warn

Leyburn Medical Practice.

A decision to end a minor injuries service provided by Richmondshire GPs could lead to further strains on hospitals and potentially cost the lives of patients, doctors have warned.

Hambleton Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group has told GP practices that in a bid to cut costs it will no longer fund an enhanced minor injuries service provided by the medical centres.

The funding paid for the district GPs to treat minor injuries that would other wise require the patient to go to A&E.

The CCG said the service was being withdrawn from all its GP practices because it was only used by a small number of patients and in areas like Northallerton and Whitby treatment could be provided by existing services.

However, the announcement has shocked both local GPs and patient groups.

In a letter to the CCG, the Central Dales Practice which covers Hawes and Aysgarth, the GPs say the decision, which they say has been made without consultation, is “devoid of any common sense or regard for the realities of primary care in our remote parts of the area”.

The letter states: “We feel that to proceed with this decision not only inconveniences patients but provides a far poorer service and increases the risk of major morbidity and even fatalities by reducing access to a service which works well locally.

“We know our patients are not big users of casualty and out of hours because they can easily access our services.

“If this stops you will see an increase in casualty attendance, perhaps not at Northallerton, especially with the temporary movement of services to James Cook which comes at the same time, where you highlight surplus capacity but at other units which our population would find easier to access.”

Nigel Watson, chair of Leyburn Medical Practice Patient Participation Group, has also written to the CCG, saying the group is “dismayed” that funding will end from April 1.

He added: “This seems to us to be completely counter-productive.

“The current service not only fulfils current NHS England policy of moving more services into the community; it also helps to relieve the burden on already overstretched A&E Departments and Urgent Treatment Centres.

“It also provides a local service, which is so important in a rural area like ours where it can be a constant struggle for some patients to make the journey to the Friarage, James Cook or Darlington Memorial Hospitals.”

Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie said rural Richmondshire was becoming an “NHS free zone”.

He added: “Yet again the HRW CCG has adopted a cavalier attitude to those it is there to serve.

“Following the shambles accompanying  their introduction without any consultation of the new, restricted eligibility criteria for the patient transport service, which following pressure led by me at both Richmondshire District Council and North Yorkshire County Council they have now had to backtrack on, we now have the GP practices suffering from the same fate.

“These GP practices represent the membership of the HRW CCG and having been advised that the minor injuries service would be funded as recently as November, it has now been withdrawn without any consultation whatsoever just three months later.

“Their response to this about-turn has been of outright anger, fully understandable in the circumstances.”

In response, Jim Hayburn, interim finance director from Hambleton Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, said that the CCG was facing”significant financial challenges”.

He added: “We have been reviewing all commissioned services to ensure the services we buy are those which will provide the most benefit for our population.

“This review has included services provided by general practice which are in addition to those they provide under the standard national contract.

“Because the enhanced minor injuries scheme is delivered by general practices under contract we have to take a consistent approach across the whole CCG geography.

“When we reviewed the enhanced minor injuries scheme we discovered it deals with a small number of patients who were not spread evenly through the CCG and that in some areas there were already existing services available. This is especially true of Northallerton and Whitby.

“We are committed to ensuring we are providing the right services for our population. The CCG has invested a significant amount in new services provided by general practice in recent times.

“This investment has provided services considered to be priorities for our population such as additional support for the frail elderly and practice based clinical community pharmacist.”

 

3 Comments

  1. Once again , locals will have to bear the cost of travelling to James Cook . Sometimes I wonder why we pay into the N.H.S ! Richmond is next in line to loose local surgeries , and we all need to rise up against this , or in a few years time , as was stated above , we will indeed , be a N.H.S free zone .

  2. Just another bunch of bean counters at work, forget about those who live in the countryside and only spend money on City folk!
    Honestly, the CCG is a joke!

  3. Why is it these faceless chinless wonders can change people’s lives for the worse don’t we have a say in what happens aren’t they supposed to be working fir us to have decent medical care, I’m all for helping people but how about stop sending billions of pounds to other countries to help them how about helping the poor sick and needy we have at home doesn’t it say charity begins at home? Soon there will be charity organisations asking for help for poor sick ailing down trodden Britain. It our health service leave it alone or at least walk a mile in our shoes getting to see a doctor at the moment is harder than getting to visit the queen what are these faceless idiots playing at

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