St Albans City Hospital urgent care centre plan abandoned

CONFIRMATION of the scrapping of plans for an urgent care centre at St Albans City Hospital has brought an angry response from MP Anne Main.

The St Albans MP heard of the decision by NHS Hertfordshire not to proceed with the urgent care centre in a letter from Andrew Parker, director of primary care commissioning and development at NHS Herts, following last week’s meeting of the board.

And she is particular angry about the amount of money which has been wasted “on pointless consultations” into a plan which had little chance of coming to fruition.

The urgent care centre (UCC) was to have replaced the current minor injuries unit at City Hospital and would have been staffed by doctors as well as nurses and had diagnostic equipment to deal with minor injuries.

In March the then West Herts Primary Care Trust withdrew the plans after halting the tendering procedure because of what was claimed to be a lack of “competitively priced” bidders wanting to deliver both the St Albans and Bishop’s Stortford schemes.

Mrs Main said this week that it was clear that once again St Albans had been led down the garden path by the NHS in Hertfordshire and once again left in the lurch in terms of NHS services.

She went on: “I have written to the outgoing chief executive Anne Walker to request urgent talks about this although I doubt very much that they will be prepared to reconsider what is obviously a decision based purely on cost-cutting grounds.”

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She described a meeting held with the PCT in the Town Hall shortly before the election as a token gesture which took no notice of the views of local people.

She went on: “Over recent years Anne Walker made a strong case that the proposed super hospital was an unaffordable model and that an urgent care centre was the best way forward. She suggested this was the only way forward as part of a sustainable business plan that delivered top healthcare for local people in St Albans. So what has changed?”

Mrs Main did not accept that the current situation – which she described as the third option – was the best way forward and called on NHS Hertfordshire to come clean and admit it was all they could afford not what they would like to do.

Local GPs and others involved in commissioning health services have agreed they would not want to prioritise further investment in developing a UCC at City Hospital but would like to explore the possibility of improving access to some tests and investigations that are not available at the weekend and introducing formal GP direct access to CT scanning.