THERE is still time to have a say on a major restructuring of emergency care in Worcestershire.
A public consultation on the county’s Urgent Care Strategy, which has been developed by a collaboration of NHS organisations throughout the county and sets out plans for the future of healthcare for the next three years in the face of falling budgets and increasing demand, is open until Wednesday, March 19.
The plans were presented to a meeting of Worcestershire County Council’s Heath Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, February 26, where David Mehaffey, who is spearheading the initiative, described it as “a challenge for Worcestershire”.
“The plan is to put primary care alongside A&E departments,” he said. “We recognise that health inequalities are an issue for Worcestershire.”
Chief clinical officer for South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Carl Ellson said the plans were the result of a significant amount of work.
“There has been some acceptance that the model of primary care has got to chance over the next five years,” he said.
But Worcestershire Healthwatch chairman Peter Pinfield said he was concerned not enough time was being given for feedback in the consultation.
“This will have a real impact on the whole population and its worth taking a little more time think how we want to do it,” he said.
And Worcester City Council’s representative on the board Dr David Tibbutt said he was worried the consultation had a limited reach.
“It’s all very well putting out a consultation process but we will only hear back from the people who want to respond,” he said. “The people who don’t respond are those who are coming into A&E several times a year.”
A key element of the plans is increasing the availability and effectiveness of out-of-hospital care in order to reduce the demand on A&E departments in the country, which have been under significant strain for some time, as well as making sure services are available seven days a week.
If the plans are given the go-ahead the Worcester Walk-In Health Centre in Farrier Street will stop accepting ‘walk-in’ patients when the current contract expires in August as NHS bosses believe it will no longer be required. It will however continue to operate as a GP practice for registered patients.
The plans can be seen at southworcsccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/urgent-care and feedback can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the hashtag #urgentcareworcs on Twitter.
It is hoped the plans can be put into place at the start of April.