Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group recognises the strength of feeling locally about the closure of the Putnoe Walk in Centre on 30 September 2018, and concerns over the accessibility of GP appointments for residents.
Since autumn of last year, we have been working hard with partners in Bedford to blend the care we provide, to ensure that it meets the needs of our local population and delivers on national policy initiatives.
The CCG is nationally mandated by NHS England to provide an Urgent Treatment Centre in Bedford, which would give local people access to a facility where minor illness and injury could be treated, without adding additional pressure on the A&E department at Bedford Hospital.
The national specification of the Urgent Treatment Centre outlines that the Centre should be within close proximity to diagnostics, like x-ray, urine sampling and blood tests. After careful consideration, it was agreed that the only site able to host the Urgent Treatment Centre in Bedford is the Cauldwell Medical Centre, on the site of Bedford Hospital.
In addition to the Urgent Treatment Centre, residents in Bedford voted at the end of last year for an extended hours GP service. More than 1,300 people responded to an online questionnaire in the autumn, which asked how people wanted to access their GP and when appointments were most needed.
From the survey, it was clear that residents:
Following this engagement, GPs in Bedford agreed to provide extended GP services, which would be rolled out in October 2018 – to coincide with the opening of the new Urgent Treatment Centre.
With the Walk in Centre contract at Putnoe Medical Centre set to expire in March 2018, and no further extensions to the contract, which is managed by NHS England, available, the CCG took the decision to enter into a new contract with partners at the practice to ensure continuity of service for residents in Bedford until October 2018, when the new Urgent Treatment Centre and extended GP services would be up and running.
This means that in the short term, residents will continue to use local services as they always have. From 1 October however, only patients that are registered at Putnoe Medical Centre, or wish to register, will be able to access the six day service provided by the practice.
Those patients who are not registered at the practice, but want to access same day, walk in appointments will be able to access a clinician either at the new Urgent Treatment Centre at the Cauldwell Medical Centre, or via the extended GP service provided by practices across Bedford.
While the CCG recognises concerns about parking and access to the Cauldwell Medical Centre, the new extended hours GP services will provide residents with additional services closer to home.
While this is an enhanced service for residents in Bedford, the CCG recognises that there remains concern within communities about access to services and there is much work to do in determining how the new model of care for the GP extended hours service will be delivered. In response, the CCG has committed to engaging with the local community to co-design the new GP extended hours service.
Work is underway to meet with those who presented the petition to save Putnoe Walk in Centre from closure, to listen to their views. A series of engagement events and listening opportunities will also be arranged across Bedford over the coming months to give residents the opportunity to make their voice heard and engage in the design of local services.
An engagement plan will be presented to Bedford Borough Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee and members of the Patient and Public Engagement Committee, a formal sub-committee of the CCG’s Governing Body will be invited to scrutinise plans to ensure we are working to involve the many different communities within Bedford.
If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org