A plan to change access to Corby’s Urgent Care Centre has been placed on hold.
Corby CCG had decided, controversially, to replace the current walk-in service with a new appointment-based GP-led ‘Same Day Access Hub’.
Those plans were the subject of a judicial review with campaigners against the plans claiming victory after a judge ruled the CCG did not carry out the consultation it had promised.
But now the health body has decided to instead search for an organisation to run the centre for another three years rather than immediately progressing with their previous plan.
Campaigner Maria Bryan, from the Save Corby Urgent Care Centre action group, was delighted to hear of the decision.
She said: “It’s really, really good news.
“We’re really pleased that the service will be retained as we have always said that it needed to be.
“This makes a mockery of them [the CCG] saying it needed changing to save money.
“There’s no case for changing the service at all.”
Dr Joanne Watt, clinical chair of Corby CCG, said: “We have always said that our plans for a Same Day Access Hub meant no significant change in service, and the judge agreed with that.
“However, it is a priority for us to ensure no disruption in local health services.
“The CCG has been through a period of significant legal challenge and this is the best way of ensuring continuity of service, as we continue to focus on commissioning safe, caring, high quality healthcare services for all our patients.
“I would like to thank all those who have contributed to our recent engagement events, and those who have shared their views about how healthcare could be improved.”
Notice has been issued today (September 13) of the intention to start a procurement process to avert the risk of there being no service in place when the current contract expires at the end of March 2019.
The CCG says it has “fully considered its position” after the judicial review – and its focus will be entirely on securing continuity of the current service through a procurement exercise.
Ms Bryan said the judicial review was an expensive waste of time.
She said: “It’s cost us two-fold.
“The CCG used our money to fight us and we had to fundraise to fight them.”
Expressions of interest will be sought for the provision of two services:
Lot 1: The current walk-in Urgent Care Centre service for illness and injury patients requiring assessment, treatment, and potentially further diagnostics.
Lot 2: Extended access to support general practice, including first contact for musculoskeletal problems, mental health, and Advanced Nurse Practitioner skills – with a strong emphasis on supporting people to look after themselves.
Organisations will be able to bid to run the services either individually or together.
The contract will involve a three-year arrangement, to allow time for a further considered debate with the people of Corby about the long-term shape of local services.
Corby MP Tom Pursglove said: “I think it’s brilliant news.
“It guarantees that people will be able to access all the services they can now. I still think there’s more to be done in terms of GP access and more primary care services.
“I’d called for the CCG to pause for thought and think carefully about the way forward.
“The three year extension gives them the change to do that.
“I would also like to thank the campaign group who have worked tirelessly on this. My message to the CCG is now to work with the community to make sure we have the right primary care services in place.”
Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Beth Miller said the news was ‘brilliant,’ adding: “I know how important this facility is to local people.
“I want to pay tribute to the action group who worked tirelessly to protect the centre, and who I was proud to support in their judicial review.
“I am glad the CCG listened to our calls to stop the downgrade.
“Now we need to continue the fight so that Corby gets fair funding from this Government and our MP.
“We’re still underfunded relative to other parts of the country.”
UKIP MEP for Corby Margot Parker, who lives in the borough, said: “This is great news for Corby and well done to the campaigners who worked tirelessly to save the urgent care unit.
“It shows the power of local action and illustrates how the authorities sit up and take notice when communities join together to fight for facilities.
“Now, all parties must work alongside each other to continue the good work the centre carries out.”