Permanent stay on urgent care centre night closure demanded by Welwyn Hatfield politicians

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:12 28 October 2019

Labour demonstrated outside the East and North Herts CCG meeting at the Foolcare Centre in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Supplied.

Labour demonstrated outside the East and North Herts CCG meeting at the Foolcare Centre in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Supplied.

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Welwyn Hatfield politicians welcomed the pause on closing the urgent care centre at night - but asked for this to be made permanent.

Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Lib Dems Cllr Malcolm Cowan. Picture: Supplied.Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Lib Dems Cllr Malcolm Cowan. Picture: Supplied.

On Thursday, East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided to keep the minor illnesses and emergency centre open until March 2020.

The CCG, which manages NHS services, said the delay will allow them to concentrate efforts on making people aware of the night services available at Welwyn Garden City's New QEII.

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Fiona Thomson - executive member for governance, public health and climate change - has pledged the Conservative-controlled council's help to the CCG.

However Cllr Thomson said if more services like X-rays, which are only available during the day, were taken away it would push people to Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Fiona Thomson speaking at the CCG meeting. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Fiona Thomson speaking at the CCG meeting. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

She also hopes that the CCG will look at "what level of attendance is required overnight to keep the UCC open, and investigate attendances at Lister by residents who could be seen at the UCC".

Rosie Newbigging, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield, also welcomed the "partial victory" and pledged to "ramp up" the Labour campaign - which saw supporters out in force before the meeting - to prevent the closure from 10pm to 8am.

"We need to turn this temporary reprieve into a total reversal," Ms Newbigging said.

"We want overnight services for children brought back, overnight X-ray services and an overnight mental health crisis service - and the return of the shuttle bus service.

"This is far from the end."

Cllr Malcolm Cowan - the Liberal Democrat council group leader, who also attended the Thursday meeting - warned that it is clear that "there is a lack of confidence in the current setup".

"The result is many Welwyn Hatfield resdents clearly go to Lister overnight when many of them could be treated here in Welwyn Garden City," Cllr Cowan said.

"The NHS need to more clearly explain exactly what is on offer here to reduce people feeling they have to drive to Lister to then join a long queue."

Welwyn Hatfield's MP Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Hatfield Town Council and North Mymms Parish Council have all strongly opposed the night closure - while Herts County Council, local GP groups and East and North Herts NHS Trust have agreed with the CCG.

The CCG argues as an average of less than one person per hour - between 10pm and 6am - drop in for treatment, services can be best used at Lister.

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