Throughout 2017, my top priority as the MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire has arguably been the campaign to save the Corby Urgent Care Centre, which is supported by huge numbers of local people from across north Northamptonshire, and in particular, the superbly organised Save Corby Urgent Care Centre group.
Along with many others, I have worked tirelessly on this issue, and continue to do so. Over the past few months I have organised a Westminster Hall debate on this matter, presented a petition signed by thousands of Corby and East Northamptonshire residents on the floor of the House, which was organised by the Save Corby Urgent Care Centre group, as well as raising the issue in questions and interventions on the floor of the House. In my contributions, I have reiterated how local people rely on this fantastic facility to ensure their healthcare needs are met, and emphasised the overwhelming strength of local feeling on this issue.
That is why I was delighted when, in September, it was announced that agreement had been reached between NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group and Lakeside+ Ltd on a contract extension for the Urgent Care Centre, on a four-month rolling basis which started on October 1. This was extremely welcome news, given that it took the September 30 cliff-edge out of the equation, which we all so feared. I certainly did not want to see a situation where the doors were shut, given how hard we all know it would be to get them re-opened.
That said, the announcement by the local commissioners only dealt with the short-term. Longer-term, we must continue to make the case for urgent care facilities in the town – half the battle has been won, but we must soldier on and I will certainly be continuing to raise the matter whenever I get the opportunity in Parliament, not least because Corby Clinical Commissioning Group is in the process of launching a public consultation about the facility’s long-term future.
I would urge everyone across north Northamptonshire to make their views known as the facility is vital to us all, given its significance as part of the health infrastructure of the whole county, and most notably in relieving the pressures on the A&E at Kettering General Hospital – a point my two colleagues, Peter Bone MP and Philip Hollobone MP, continue to join me in stressing. On the issue of cost, I am convinced this can be addressed by improving access to existing GP services in Corby, by ensuring more residents are able to see their doctor on the same day – in turn reducing the cost of providing the urgent care centre service, by reducing the number of those needing to use it. The two issues cannot be treated in isolation.
I am hugely proud of the community campaign we have seen to secure the immediate future of the Corby Urgent Care Centre but, of course, our efforts must not end here. I will be meeting with the CCG in the next few weeks to obtain a full update on their ongoing consultation work, and at that meeting, I will again reiterate my adamant position: that we must retain urgent care facilities in Corby.
As that process evolves, I would urge all readers to make their views on the urgent care centre known to both their local MP, and to the Corby CCG – together, we must make the case and leave the commissioners in no doubt about the path they should take.