It’s not been an easy few years for the Corby Urgent Care Centre.
The Cottingham Road 8-8 is the jewel in the crown of the town’s healthcare system that has been groaning under the weight of 10,000 new people that have made the borough the fastest growing outside of London during the past decade.
The envy of other towns, Corby UCC really works.
It has a reputation for efficiency and top-notch care and back in 2016 was said by the then Labour leadership contender Owen Smith to represent the future of the NHS
But just a few months after Smith’s visit, the operator Lakeside Plus threatened to close the UCC after the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group refused to pay NHS national tariff rates to the operator.
That row ended after a legal ruling forced the CCG to pay up.
The battle was won, but not the war.
In 2017, the CCG proposed changes to the UCC that would see it become a Same Day Access Hub - ditching the walk-in service, stopping access for people without a Corby GP and closing the observation bays.
The move was fiercely opposed by a grassroots campaign group Save Corby Urgent Care Centre which challenged the CCG’s decision not to consult on the change.
Their judicial review was successful and the CCG was ordered to consult on the changes.
Rather than do this, they decided to keep the service open as an urgent care centre and sought a new firm to run the place.
Enter OnePrimaryCare, the Leeds-based company that was last week handed the contract to run the UCC for two years.
Understandably sceptical, the Save Corby Urgent Care Centre campaign group had questions.
OnePrimaryCare chief executive Rachel Beverley-Stevenson was happy to provide answers.
Rachel is realistic about the uphill struggle she’s going to have to win the confidence of Corby people.
“I googled, obviously,” she says.
“I knew that there’d been issues.
“But we already run an urgent care centre in Bracknell that has been through a judicial review so we get the public passion and concern.
“We’re really looking forward to coming to Corby.
“We won’t be changing any of the core services. Our company is not some big corporate, we’re not offshore.
“Our aim is to invest in Corby, especially around the use of technology to improve things.
“We are here to build bridges. Our experience is in talking to people and building relationships with the communities in which we work.
“We want to strengthen the team there and bring in new technology but we won’t do it without the involvement of Corby people.
“We’re here to make a difference, not a profit. Of course we have to have a return, but we will also reinvest.”
The beginning of Rachel’s medical empire was accidental. In 2004 she’d been made redundant from her operations management job in Australia - that she says taught her how not to run a business - and on her return, her newly-retired dad asked her to look into whether she thought it was worth getting involved in the government’s latest round of ring-fenced healthcare funding.
“I Asked Jeeves in my dining room,” says Rachel.
“I thought there was a market there and dad said I should go and find some people who knew what they were doing.”
Just six months later, Rachel’s firm had won its first contract to build a medical centre in Cleethorpes.
“We went into the presentation and talked about how the building would work around the patients.
“We worked on more projects and it became very clear that the way care was delivered could do with a different approach.”
Rachel’s company is still wholly owned by her, her mum, dad Michael Beverley and former British Council chair Sir Vernon Ellis.
It now runs a whole range of healthcare facilities around the country. They recently sold their property portfolio to MedicX so that they could concentrate time and money on building the care side of the business.
Their firm, now called OneMedicalGroup has four focuses - care, property, training and wellness and has its HQ on a farm near to Leeds. Its daughter company OnePrimaryCare will run the Corby Urgent Care Centre.
The company logo is a rainbow sheep with the tagline WeAreOne, representing Rachel’s desire for all the companies to work holistically as one team. She says the staff are a OneMedicalGroup ‘flock’.
Rachel won’t be drawn on the breakdown of the relationship between former operator Lakeside Plus and the CCG. But she says she’s sure that the urgent care centre is viable.
“The contract we have is exactly the same,” she said.
“It isn’t changing at all.
“We can make it work because we’ve got a lot of experience. We’ve been running this type of urgent care centre since 2008.”
Rachel says that her company will also work with Aspiro, who were unveiled on Wednesday as the firm who would be providing a new late night and weekend GP service across Corby.
She says they’d also love to share ideas with other surgeries in Corby.
“Part of being a family-owned business is that we can make decisions like that for ourselves,” said Rachel.