Call for answers over St Albans urgent care centre

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 06 May 2010

HEALTH bosses have been accused of stonewalling at a meeting to discuss the decision to scrap plans for an urgent care centre in St Albans. As revealed by the Herts Advertiser, West Herts Primary Care Trust (PCT) withdrew plans to create the facility in p

HEALTH bosses have been accused of stonewalling at a meeting to discuss the decision to scrap plans for an urgent care centre in St Albans.

As revealed by the Herts Advertiser, West Herts Primary Care Trust (PCT) withdrew plans to create the facility in place of the minor injuries unit at St Albans City Hospital at the end of March.

Following the shock announcement MP Anne Main organised a public meeting at the Town Hall last week which was attended by the PCT's director of primary care development Andrew Parker and his colleague Simon Rouse, the director of strategy.

As reported last week, they were quizzed by representatives and members of the public about why the plug was pulled on the urgent care centre.

But they were accused of hiding behind "jargon" which left those in attendance struggling to understand the situation.

Mrs Main, who chaired the meeting, said: "They hid behind incomprehensible jargon and did not to put forward an easily-understood argument as to why an urgent care centre was no longer the correct model for the needs of residents in St Albans.

"It didn't appear to me that the PCT was planning for the future, which I believe is very short sighted. We were given no facts and figures to support this new decision and no detail on costings. They simply made it clear that they believed they couldn't justify the funding.

"Their argument seemed to revolve around the fact that too much money has been spent on acute services elsewhere. But St Albans is growing, we have been obliged to take many extra new homes in the area, and yet we have fewer services than we had 10 years ago.

"My constituents were given no evidence that the scrapped proposed facility would not still ultimately be the correct one for the local population. Surely commonsense dictates that if the PCT said we needed more services on the site 12 months ago, then we still do now."

She added: "As far as I'm concerned, they have simply changed their minds due to lack of money and they are struggling to justify the decision. There is no other way of looking at it."

LibDem parliamentary candidate for St Albans Sandy Walkington, who sat on the panel at the meeting, said the meeting was "truly depressing" and accused the PCT representatives of speaking "gibberish."

He continued: "It feels like an endless down escalator with decisions being made on the back of an envelope. No wonder local people think the NHS has left them. All we got from the two PCT representatives was evasive management speak. St Albans is owed better given the sad history of let-down and betrayal.

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