Dales GP surgeries have minor injuries funding restored

The Central Dales Practice in Hawes. Photo: Google.

Three Dales GP surgeries are to have their funding restored to offer treatment for minor injuries.

The Central Dales Practice, which has surgeries in Hawes and Aysgarth, and Reeth Medical Centre will get funding to provide the service after a U-turn by bosses at NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG.

The CCG made the decision to withdraw enhanced minor injuries funding from GP practices in its area earlier this year.

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

The CCG said in a statement: “The enhanced minor injuries scheme is a practice-based minor injuries service which complements the services already provided by GP practices and local minor injuries units and was available at all practices during normal opening hours.

“Patients were seen by a nurse trained in treating minor injuries and if their condition was considered to be more or less serious, they would be referred to a GP, another care centre or given advice about self-care.

“Because the enhanced minor injuries scheme is delivered by general practices under contract the CCG initially took a consistent approach across the whole CCG geography.

“The service deals with a small number of patients who are not spread evenly through the CCG and in some areas there were already existing services available. This is especially true of Northallerton and Whitby.

“However the CCG accepted that there are two GP practices that are significantly more rural than others being more than 25 miles from an alternative minor injuries unit and after review the CCG agreed to make special arrangements for those practices.”

The case for the Dales surgeries to receive special treatment was made by Richmond MP Rishi Sunak and Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie.

 

In a letter to the CCG, Mr Sunak said the withdrawal of the funding would hit the most rural practices hardest.

The HRW CCG – which buys health services for local people – had originally decided to cut the funding for all GP practices because it is already funding minor injuries services at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, and paying for patients to be treated at Darlington Memorial.

But Mr Sunak said while this was justified for practices close to existing minor injuries units, it was unfair to the patients of the most isolated practices.

He wrote: “The circumstances of these practices are very different from those based near to the major towns with A&E/minor injuries units. Reasonably convenient access to appropriate healthcare is a priority for residents in this part of my constituency.

“Sensible policy ought to be able to differentiate between these different types of surgeries and it does seem to defy logic that “a blanket approach or nothing at all” is a the only way to proceed.”

He added that the original plan could well have turned out to be counter-productive.

The CCG’s U-turn in relation to the most rural practices was revealed in a letter to Mr Sunak from Amanda Bloor, the accountable officer for the CCG.

She acknowledged his concern about the special circumstances of the practices in Wensleydale and Swaledale, saying that funding would continue at the Reeth Medical Practice and the Central Dales Practice because they were more than 25 miles from any urgent care centre.

He said: “I am very pleased that the CCG has responded so positively. While I understand the logic of not paying for a minor injuries service twice in Northallerton, I pointed out to the CCG that this decision didn’t make sense in very rural areas.

“Indeed, the policy might have cost more money because relatively minor cuts and burns, for example, might not be treated promptly or at all which would then lead to complications.

Cllr Blackie said: “I welcome the about-turn the HRW CCG has made in re-instating the funding for minor injuries services that these three practices operate, which frankly should never have been taken away in the first place.

“The decision to withdraw the funding was inexplicable, and when it was placed in the spotlight by Richmondshire Today and other local media, it highlighted a CCG promoting a policy of delivering healthcare services in the local community on the one hand, and taking them away on the other.

“Whilst Mr Sunak has added his influence as local MP, the carefully argued letter from the Central Dales Practice based in Hawes and Aysgarth added weight to the campaign for common sense to prevail.

“My calling for a rethink at the HRW CCG by raising the issue at both Richmondshire District Council and the NYCC Scrutiny of Health Committee may have also helped return a result that will benefit the health and well-being of the deeply rural communities here in the Upper Dales, and by way of our remoteness is nothing less than we deserve.”

Marie Brooks, managing partner at the Reeth Medical Practice, welcomed the decision.

“This is a very important part of the overall service we offer to patients who are a long way from the nearest hospital-based minor injuries unit. We are relieved that the funding will continue beyond April 1.”

Mr Sunak said he also lobbied the CCG on behalf of the medical practice at Leyburn.

Funding for the service there will be withdrawn because the CCG argues that the requirements are covered by a Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic who is based there permanently.