Letters: Process is flawed and needs ripping up

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The deadline for the NHS Sheffield consultation on ‘Making urgent care work better in Sheffield’ was extended from 18 December to 31 January, but how many people knew how to find out about it ? I only found out a few days ago because of being a member of the Patient Participation Group for Ecclesall and Netherthorpe Medical Centres. The consultation document can be found online at www.sheffieldccg.nhs.uk.

The pre-amble to the document and the questionnaire are confusing to say the least, but what it does say is that 1 in 4 people who go to A&E could have been treated more appropriately elsewhere. When offered options 1, 2 or 3 in the document , they all state that the minor injuries unit and the GP walk-in centre should be moved to – yes you’ve got it – the Northern General Hospital where by their own admission 1 in 4 could have been treated better elsewhere .

It has been reported ad nauseam about the problems of travelling to the Northern General, the problems of finding different departments and above all the parking. Why therefore should they think it better to move even more people to it than seek better alternatives. Why should they be giving priority to the 25 per cent at the inconvenience of 75 per cent of us ?

The 25 per cent could be better handled at a more central unit whose facilities could not only fulfil its current role of providing urgent care, but be enhanced to carry out minor injuries and still refer any urgent cases to the appropriate department at the NGH which is only ten minutes away from it. I am of course referring to the Rockingham Street GP walk-in centre which is more central for the majority of the city’s population and will relieve the pressure on the A&E at the NGH. Moving the minor injuries unit to it from the Hallamshire would save costs and remove any confusion as to where to go for urgent care . Apparently, the Rockingham walk-in centre doesn’t have access to patient records, but why ? The government and hackers can access them, then why can’t the walk-in ?

The NHS are not only proposing moving everything to the NGH but also to set up clusters of current GP practices to serve each locality for urgent care and for GPs from their own practices as well as new GPs to provide the urgent 24 hour care required. GPs are already struggling to cope with all the patients attending their own practices and wouldn’t have the time to devote to an urgent care group. Above all, there aren’t enough new GPs to recruit for such a proposal and if there were, they would have been recruited by current practices who are relying on locums.

There are people from Handsworth going to the Rotherham GH on Moorgate because it is easier than going to the NGH ; similarly there are people from Beauchief going to the Chesterfield Hospital in Calow for the same reason.

By moving even more people to the NGH will significantly inconvenience the vast majority of us and exacerbate the problems we all have to endure in going there . They should focus on the excellent health service they provide without having to provide for treating minor injuries and urgent care which would be better catered for in the city itself at Rockingham Street.

The consultation process has been flawed and needs ripping up and starting again, because those that are behind it won’t have to bear the consequences of years of even more inconvenience, but we will.

William Beckett

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