Anger over GP decision

A DECISION to stop local doctors from providing patient care at a newly built hospital in an Essex town has been branded “horrendous”.GPs from three surgeries in Harwich have provided “in hours” care for their patients at the town's hospitals for 50 years.

A DECISION to stop local doctors from providing patient care at a newly built hospital in an Essex town has been branded “horrendous”.

GPs from three surgeries in Harwich have provided “in hours” care for their patients at the town's hospitals for 50 years.

But the recently formed North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) - an amalgamation of Colchester and Tendring PCTs - has told them their services would no longer be required.

To save money the service will now be provided by Primecare, a company the NHS already uses to provide care for patients at weekends and during the night in Tendring.


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The company will take full control of patient care at the new £12million Fryatt Hospital and Mayflower Medical Centre on December 18.

Dr Richard Alldrick, a GP who has worked in a practice in the town for 23 years, is among those to be hit by the changes.

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He said: “The new PCT has just taken a unilateral decision that is going to severely affect the people of Harwich and Dovercourt.

“The trouble is that this is a Government driven issue that we can't do anything about but we do feel in Tendring that we've always been the poor relation in regards to Colchester.

“What will be lost is the personal service that the people of Harwich and Dovercourt have had for 50 years. Our input into the hospital will actually now be nil.”

Dr Alldrick is in charge of the Dovercourt Health Centre - one of the three local surgeries affected by the move. The others are run by Dr Austen Wynne and Dr Stuart Child.

The new hospital has been beset by problems, even before opening its doors in September.

Earlier this month the EADT reported the site was still not fully operational and services, including the minor injuries unit, were left unused as workers were sent to Colchester to cover staff shortages.

Questions still remain about the unopened operating theatre and X-ray department while there are fears about the future of the maternity unit.

Vickie Williams, the chairman of Tendring Health Action Group, said people felt the area had been short-changed since the merger of the primary care trusts.

She said: “A doctor knows his patients' needs and their history. This is just horrendous - when doctors cannot go into hospital to see their patients.

“We have had a lot of Government funding - that is not the issue. But Tendring PCT had a surplus which was ear-marked for the area which we no longer have.”

She said that she had written to Paul Zollinger-Read, Chief Executive of the new PCT, to ask for the promised services to finally be delivered.

She added: “They have closed the leg ulcer unit and the minor injuries unit is closed more than it is open.

“I think we will be short changed by the merger - they are going to concentrate on Colchester and we will be the forgotten people.

“We have a beautiful state-of-the-art hospital and it is lovely, but they cannot keep taking the services away from us.”

But Matt Bushell, director of strategic development and commissioning for North East Essex PCT, said all areas of current expenditure were under review.

“We understand some concerns have been raised by patient representatives and other groups in Harwich concerning the provision of 'in hours on call' medical support to the Fryatt Hospital and Mayflower Medical Centre, Harwich.

“This provides a rota of doctors who can be called upon to visit patients on the wards, if such a medical need should arise.

“Specific to the 'in hours on call' service in Harwich, the PCT is putting in place an alternative provider, Primecare, which is already contracted to us for the out-of-hours GP cover in the Tendring area.

“On a pilot basis, Primecare will provide a service to the Fryatt Hospital which includes additional quality standards but at a more competitive cost.”

He said the PCT was responsible for delivering “appropriate, continuing and effective” care to the local population but also for getting best value from its funding allocations.

The new service arrangements in Harwich will be fully reviewed during the pilot period and a tender will then be issued setting out “specification of need” for future requirements, which local GPs will be able to bid for.

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