Under an agreement introduced by the previous Labour government in 2008, each Primary Care Trust had to provide a GP-led health centre that was open to all patients from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week – whether registered or not with that practice. South Gloucestershire PCT, now re-branded as NHS South Gloucestershire, awarded their contract to the Orchard Medical Centre in Kingswood and for the past two years anyone resident in South Gloucestershire has been able to access Orchard Medical Centre with or without an appointment.
However, at a meeting of the local council’s Health Scrutiny Committee last week, it emerged that as part of an overhaul of urgent care services, the local PCT has changed the contract without consulting anyone. Since May, any patient who is not registered with the practice and whose needs are not deemed to be “medically urgent” will not be treated and will be told to go and see their own GP.
Commenting on the changes, local councillor Andy Perkins (Labour, Woodstock) and a member of the Health Scrutiny Committee said he was angry at the change:
“We were told that the local PCT has had to make these changes because the new government is not giving it enough money to meet the demand for urgent care in the South Gloucestershire area. In order to meet demand they are having to cut budgets elsewhere and in this case it means that they are going back on its commitment to widen access to GP services.”
Councillors on the committee were also angered that the changes had been introduced without any consultation. Councillor Ian Scott (Labour, Filton), the party’s spokesperson on health issues, added:
“The PCT introduced these changes in May but failed to consult adequately or early enough. To make the change, they must have made preparations earlier in the year and should have consulted before making the changes.”
Ref: Para 4a of the report on the Common Approach to Urgent Care [PDF, 291kB]
Source: Labour Councillors on South Gloucestershire Council