More views sought on Richardson Hospital out of hours service as consultation period is extended
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A PUBLIC consultation which proposes to shut an out of hours nurse practitioner service operating out of the Richardson Hospital, in Barnard Castle, has been extended to enable more residents to express their views.
The NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has extended the consultation period into the proposed changes to seven day access to primary care services by an extra six weeks.
The consultation was supposed to finish on Wednesday, December 19, but residents will now have until Wednesday, January 30, to have their say on the changes proposed by the CCG.
Currently the CCG operates nine “GP hubs” across the county but proposes to reduce that to three.
The CCG says the out of hours nurse practitioner’s service, which operates on evenings and weekends at the Richardson Hospital, is underused and is not a good use of finances.
However, there have been complaints patients are not able to access the service at the Richardson, with NHS 111 call handlers sending them elsewhere.
If the new proposals are adopted, residents from Teesdale would have to travel to Bishop Auckland for any out of hours appointments.
Barnard Castle town councillor Judi Sutherland said: “What I would like to know if they are extending the period of consultation is what are they doing to let people know?
“A lot of people didn’t even know about the consultation meeting that was held in Barnard Castle in November.
“I have been in the reference group for 15 months and we seem to be going round and round in circles.”
She added: “I spoke with Craig Hay, from the CCG, in December, and he promised me that he would solve these issues of people not getting to the Richardson.
“They complain they have staff there twiddling their thumbs, but because the service is at the Richardson’s and not the GP surgery there is a disconnect.
“I have asked why couldn’t we have the surgery directing people to this service,” she said.
“We pay our taxes and our insurance but what they are trying to provide is an urban service to the detriment of rural areas.”
Dr Stewart Findlay, chief officer of NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG said: “We have listened to feedback from local people and believe we need to extend the consultation to allow more people to have their say.
“We need to change the service and deliver it in a different way that we believe could be better for patients.
“We have some really positive ideas about how we can improve the service and want more time for conversation to continue.
“All ideas are welcome and I would encourage you to complete the survey.”
Anyone wishing to have their say on the proposals can complete an online survey by visiting haveasay.org.uk.