Health chiefs aim to soften blow of plans to move Bath NHS walk-in clinic
Health chiefs are attempting to soften the blow of controversial plans to move Bath's NHS walk-in clinic to the Royal United Hospital.
In a bid to cut costs and avoid what it calls duplication, the Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants to transfer services offered by GPs and nurses at the centre in James Street West to the RUH.
A report going to the Wellbeing Policy and Development and Scrutiny Committee tomorrow sets out the reasons for and against the move, and includes the views of other healthcare organisations.
Health officials from Sirona, which employs the nursing and administrative staff at the walk-in clinic, had been concerned about the impact on patients who would struggle to get to the RUH.
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Now the CCG says it is looking at new ways of making it easier for people to visit both the urgent care centre at the RUH and to get appointments at their GP surgery.
These include improved disabled parking at the RUH, GPs developing systems where patients can walk in and wait, and working with B&NES council to ensure bus routes serve GP surgeries.
Sirona chief executive Janet Rowse said: "The report to the committee reflects the views of our front line staff in the centre: they hear the concerns of the people using the service and have wanted to make sure these were reflected in the consultation process from the start.
"A considerable amount of work has been undertaken with commissioners to help ensure that these issues are fully taken into account in the final proposals, and that is reflected in the reduction in the level of concern being raised by front line staff.
"Sirona is one of a number of organisations that work very closely together to ensure that the system of care and support for people who need urgent advice or treatment works well and can cope with increasing levels of demand."
Mrs Rowse said senior managers from Sirona had fully engaged with other members of the Urgent Care Network working party to help improve the overall system.
Representatives from the Bath Labour Action Team have also presented a petition with more than 1,000 signatures opposing the move to councillors.
The online petition has been signed by 1,129 people, with complaints including the RUH being too far to travel for treatment, and lack of parking at the hospital.
They are still not satisfied that all of their concerns have been addressed.
Spokeswoman Marilyn Freeman said: "Practitioners were most concerned about access to the RUH for some people, and also the lack of primary care cover at weekends and in the middle of the day.
"In view of the lack of clarity on all these issues we will be keeping the petition open until satisfactory answers are given to the questions raised by our petitioners."
The CCG, which will take control of the local health service next April, plans to move services to the RUH from March 2014.
The petition can be found at www.change.org. Search for halt the process of closing Bath Riverside walk-in centre.