Corby urgent care centre group seeks legal challenge

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Campaigners trying to save the existing service at Corby’s Urgent Care Centre have launched a fundraising bid to gain a judicial review into the decision to alter the service.

The Urgent Care Centre in Cottingham Road has been under intense scrutiny since the health body Corby CCG, which plans and pays for the borough’s health services, said the current service provision was not right for the town.

Bosses want to keep the facility open, but make it a pre-booked appointment-only service to ease pressure on local GPs and create extra slots for people who find it difficult to get an appointment at their own surgery. There will continue to be x-ray services but observation bays will be scrapped. The geographical base at Cottingham Road is also currently up for negotiation.

And, because of the unique way in which health funding works, people who do not have a Corby GP (for example those in Gretton, Desborough, East Northants and Rutland) could no longer be able to access the service unless their own CCGs decide to participate financially.

They say that as the new model of care will not be a material change to what is currently offered, there is no need to consult on it.

But campaigners at Save Our UCC say that the change represents a big difference to the current service, and have now started fundraising with the aim of asking for a judicial review into whether local residents should have been consulted over the changes.

Campaign organiser Maria Bryan said: “They don’t think their plans for the UCC are a change of service so they don’t think that they need to formally consult with the people of Corby.

“We think there’s a massive change of service and that people who are no longer going to be able to access the service are having a complete refusal of service.

“Nene CCG recently didn’t pass their budget and until they have done that, they don’t have the authority to pay Corby CCG for the service.

“There’s nobody on the CCG board that lives and works in Corby - those doctors that do work locally are excluded because of a conflict of interest.

“We feel that a judicial review is the only tool we have to hold them to account.

“The CCG have basically said ‘bring it on’ and we believe they’re going to have to use money that would have been spent on health to fund their case.”

The group has to raise an initial £5,000 by the end of March to pay for solicitors who will seek a review by a judge who will rule whether the decision not to formally consult was legal.

In response, a CCG spokesperson said that if a judicial review is rubber-stamped, the process to appoint a new provider would have to be frozen. The current UCC contract would expire at the end of March next year and, as it takes six months to procure a new service and get a provider in place, this could ultimately force the temporary closure of the UCC.

The spokesman added: “Corby CCG has engaged intensively with the public over the past year about the future of local healthcare services. Those views have directly shaped our plans to retain an urgent care service in the town and increase the capacity of GP services.

“These are both things which local people have clearly told us they want to see. We are therefore disappointed a Local Action Group has said that it is intending seek a Judicial Review. We are concerned this development could potentially compromise the CCG’s ability to deliver what the people of Corby are asking for.

We would encourage everyone to take advantage of all the information on our website, to understand fully the issues involved.”

You can read what the CCG have to say about the issues here

And you can donate to the Save Our UCC fighting fund here