NHS bosses reject calls for minor injuries funding to be restored in Leyburn and Catterick Garrison

Leyburn Medical Practice.

NHS bosses have dismissed calls to reinstate a minor injuries service at Leyburn and Catterick Garrison GP practices after making a U-turn over three surgeries in the Upper Dales.

Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group (CCG) leaders said as it continued to face financial challenges, reinstating the funding on attending to cuts, sprains and bruises at GP surgeries would mean cuts in other services instead.

The CCG’s clinical chair Dr Charles Parker and Jim Hayburn, its chief financial officer were responding to calls from members of Richmondshire District Council’s scrutiny committee to preserve minor injuries services at Leyburn and Catterick after agreeing to keep the services at Reeth, Aysgarth and Hawes.

Mr Hayburn told the meeting the CCG was facing a £3m deficit for the financial year ending this week.

He said the CCG was forecasting its deficit would be down to £1.6m for the coming financial year and that cutting the minor injuries service would save about £100,000.

Mr Hayburn said the CCG had recognised the cutbacks would hit Richmondshire more than the Northallerton area and would keep funding minor injuries services at GP practices more than 25 miles from the nearest minor injuries hospital unit.

Councillors repeatedly asked why the cutbacks had been introduced with no consultation, but Dr Parker said the CCG had raised the changes with local medical committee of GPs, which had provided “no feedback that this was a problem area”.

Cllr Lorraine Hodgson said: “I feel like we are going back a step.

“You are saying practices within a 25-mile radius of Northallerton won’t get the minor injuries service, but it takes at least 30 minutes to get to Northallerton from Richmond, and that’s on a good run and if you have got a car.

“If you don’t you’re snookered. There’s three buses a day. When you did your equation, did you factor any of that in?”

Dr Parker replied: “We didn’t. We didn’t come up with a solution for the whole economy rather than just the health economy.

“In some ways you could say that this is a backward step on care closer to home, which is something we have pushed a lot as a clinical commissioning group.”

He added the minor injuries service had been selected for cuts because it did not affect the most ill patients.

Cllr Hodgson said: “I know it’s about money, but it’s also about delivering a service. I think you are failing us.”

After the meeting, Upper Dales councillor John Blackie welcomed the U-turn on the three Wensleydale and Swaledale practice services.

He said: “The decision to withdraw the funding was inexplicable.

“Many of the visits to our GP Surgeries were by parents with young children who had a minor injury, a cut, a sprain, a burn, and consigning them to a 75-mile return trip and possibly a long wait to visit the Urgent Care Centre at the Friarage Hospital was hardly an attractive proposition especially as it is these young families we are all doing our best to retain in our Upper Dales communities.

“I would say that there are other GP Surgeries in the HRW CCG  area that should also have their minor injuries funding reinstated.

“Some serve communities which are essentially rural in nature. Leyburn GP practice covers Lower Wensleydale and Coverdale and has a specific facility to deal with minor injuries.

“The paramedic based there is very frequently called away as a first responder ahead of an Emergency Ambulance arriving, leaving those needing attention to a  minor injury to a 40 mile return trip to the Friarage.”