Tom Pursglove column: We must continue to have all urgent care services available in Corby

Corby's Urgent Care Centre
Corby's Urgent Care Centre

In recent weeks, there have been some important developments in relation to the ongoing situation relating to the future of urgent care services in Corby.

I just want to make clear at the outset, as I have throughout, that my only concern is that my constituents, and those from neighbouring areas, are able to access the right care, at the right place, at the right time – and without delay.

This means we must continue to have all the urgent care services available in the town, that we do now – an assurance that was previously given to me by the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and which I expect to see delivered upon in full.

I should also add here that nothing I say below affects patients being able to access the Urgent Care Centre at present, and they should do so as they always have done - my comments relate purely to the future model of care the CCG wish to introduce, and which has been the topic of much debate locally in recent months.

As has been widely publicised in the Northants Telegraph, at the beginning of August, the outcome of the judicial review was announced.

At the start of that legal process, I welcomed the fact that the differences of opinion that had been robustly expressed by a number of interested parties, including the local action group, the current operator and the CCG - particularly around consultation obligations as set down in law - would finally be impartially settled.

The final judgement does this, and after the outcome was announced, I requested an urgent meeting with the CCG, to once again reiterate my expectations as set out above, to try and obtain answers to some of the process mistakes the judicial review highlighted, to urge them to pause for thought before proceeding, to impress that they must implement the requirements of the judicial review in full, as well as to emphasise that our community needs certainty around their next steps.

At this point, a special mention must be given to the local action group, ‘Save Corby Urgent Care Action Group’, who have worked tirelessy in campaigning on this issue, and we all share a common objective in our determination to get this right.

In that spirit, during my meeting with the CCG, I once again robustly insisted that we must continue to have all the urgent care services available in the town, that we do now – an unequivocal assurance that was previously given to me by the CCG, which was reiterated by them, and as I say, I expect it to be delivered on in full.

I have also been consistent in saying that delivering new GP provision in the town and additional primary care services is very welcome - something I’m sure everyone would agree on, as this is evidently needed - and I also made a number of suggestions as to how the access arrangements could be got right, including expert triaging navigators on the doors - so people can be seen in person - in addition to the ability to be able to make appointments over the telephone, which may be more convenient for some. To my mind, it should be entirely possible for both methods of access to be built into the model - to put ease of access for patients, to the right care, at the very fore - and I have again urged the CCG to do so; an opportunity that pausing for thought, before properly consulting with residents on their plans presents, and as required by the judicial review.

At the meeting, I also once again stressed the need for those from neighbouring areas - particularly rural East Northamptonshire - to continue to be able to access these services, and that the existing agreements with the CCGs representing those areas, should be rolled-over.

Given that I have a limited word limit here, I am unable to set all of these issues out in full, but my follow-up letter to the CCG on these points can be found here and I would encourage readers to have a look at it, as it sets my comments in context.

Rest assured, ensuring that Corby and the surrounding areas are able to continue to access the fantastic level of urgent care which has been provided at the Urgent Care Centre, as seamlessly as possible in future, and in full, continues to be right at the top of my list of priorities, and something I will continue to campaign hard on, alongside the community - I am determined this must be got right.