Pressure is continuing to mount on health chiefs over their decision to change urgent care provision.
Opposition to NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans to change urgent care provision in the borough is growing.
At a meeting on Tuesday, CCG members agreed to push ahead with plans for a provider to take on urgent care provision from October 1, 2018.
The changes would see the temporary overnight closure of the urgent care centre at North Tyneside General Hospital become permanent, and the potential for the service to move to a different site altogether.
The aim is to run the Urgent Treatment Centre with walk-in access from 8am to midnight, and a GP appointment only out of hours service during evenings, nights and weekends through an improved NHS 111 service.
But local politicians have hit out at the decision and vowed to continue the fight to ensure residents have the same level of health care seen in Northumberland and Newcastle.
Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “I agree wholeheartedly with residents’ concerns regarding the potential changes to the urgent care centre at North Tyneside General Hospital and I am doing my upmost to ensure it remains open.
“Our residents deserve the same quality of service as those living in Northumberland, where Wansbeck and Hexham hospitals have 24/7 urgent care centres, and Newcastle, which has 24/7 provision of urgent care.
“In my opinion, the proposed changes are utterly unacceptable.
“I have written to the Secretary of State to urge him to review the situation and immediately deliver the urgent care facilities at the hospital that were promised in June.
“From the outset, I have challenged local NHS management to be clearer on their intensions for urgent care in our borough and to change its consultation to reflect the very real concerns of local people.
“In November, I met with North Tyneside CCG, along with our local MPs Mary Glindon and Alan Campbell, to raise residents’ concerns in detail. I have written to the chair of the CCG within the last week to insist the CCG reconsiders its proposals.
“I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to contact me on this issue. I have listened and I will continue to do everything in my power to stop the changes.”
Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell said: “I am naturally disappointed by this decision but not altogether surprised.
“Once the CCG decided to use the short cut of public engagement rather than a proper consultation, it looked like a matter of just confirming the plan.
“This looks like another chapter in the CCG story of wasted opportunity and wasted money and my constituents will be rightly asking why we are left with a lesser service than Hexham or Wansbeck residents”
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon added: “I am very disappointed with the CCGs decision.
“The month long ‘engagement’ exercise only paid lip service to the concerns expressed to me by local people, which were made clear in the earlier full consultation.
“The CCG has said it listens and learns from local people’s views where it can, clearly that is not the case.
“I will continue to work with Alan Campbell MP and our Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn to get the CCG to restore a full service at Rake Lane.”
Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, Dr John Matthews, a local GP and chairman of North Tyneside CCG, said: “The need for change has not gone away, but we will always listen and learn from local people’s views where we can.
“We were always clear that North Tyneside would continue to have 24/7 urgent care services, through the Urgent Treatment Centre, supported by the GP out-of-hours service.
“We are determined to spend our local NHS’s money on the best possible mix of services.
“This means patients needing urgent care at night can get clinical advice easily by calling NHS 111, with the option of a home visit or an appointment at the Urgent Treatment Centre if that is appropriate.
“That means better use of NHS resources, and a range of options for patients. If necessary, the Accident & Emergency departments at the RVI and Cramlington hospitals are further options at night time.
“Rake Lane walk-in centre was used by around three patients per night, with around two-thirds of these needing little or no treatment.”