Welwyn Garden City urgent care centre safe - for now

PUBLISHED: 12:28 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:49 25 October 2019

CEO of East and North Herts CCG Beverly Flowers. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

CEO of East and North Herts CCG Beverly Flowers. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

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Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre is safe from night closure, for now, East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided at a meeting yesterday.

Dr Prag Moodley, East and North Herts CCG Chair. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Dr Prag Moodley, East and North Herts CCG Chair. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

The 24-hour centre at the New QEII for minor illnesses and non-emergency treatment will be kept open until March 2020 while the group that manages NHS services, the CCG, make more people aware of what's on offer at night.

But the plans to close it between 10pm and 8am could still go ahead after this date, if usage does not increase.

READ MORE: NHS proposes partial closure of Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre

The CCG originally put forward the proposal as an average of less than one person per hour - between 10pm and 6am - drop in for treatment.

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillior Fiona Thomson. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Welwyn Hatfield borough councillior Fiona Thomson. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

East and North Herts CCG's CEO Beverley Flowers said that attendance has not increased as a result of the publicity about closing the service, but thought it best to wait and see if this can change.

It was also stressed by the chief finance officer at the CCG, Alan Pond, that the group needs to figure out how many people an hour, during the night, would satisfy them that the service is well used.

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READ MORE: Welwyn Garden City urgent care centre has proved confusing for Welwyn Hatfield residents, say CCG

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Fiona Thomson - executive member for governance, public health and climate change - offered the council's help in raising public knowledge during the meeting.

But Cllr Thomson did say if more services like X-rays, which are only available during the day, were taken away it would not make a difference as people would gravitate to Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

READ MORE: Welwyn Hatfield politicians fight to stop partial closure of Welwyn Garden City's urgent care centre

More than two thirds (70 per cent) of residents in the borough disagreed with the proposed changes, while outside of Welwyn Hatfield two thirds - 64 per cent - agreed that the UCC should be closed overnight and nursing staff moved to Lister.

NHS employees were also supportive of the proposal, with more than half (54 per cent) agreeing, whereas 60 per cent of non-NHS staff disagreed with the proposed changes. 85 per cent of those that use the UCC at night also disagreed with the closure.

Dr Prag Moodley, a Herts GP who chairs the CCG, said they also learnt during the engagement process that people "didn't realise that there were a range of services out there to help" like 111.

If you need medical help outside of normal GP surgery hours, you can call the NHS 111 number or seek advice online at 111.nhs.uk.

- More reaction to follow.

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