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Healthwatch recommends re-think on out-of-hours' consultation


More work needs to be done to understand the complexity of the issues locally.

That’s what we have told Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about their proposal to re-locate the out-of-hours’ service base in Cambridge.  

We also said they need to have better conversations with local people and to involve them more meaningfully in the decisions about the base’s future location.

The CCG are meeting on Tuesday 21st March in Chatteris, to make a decision. They want to re-locate the out-of-hours’ service base from Chesterton Medical Centre to Clinic 9, Addenbrooke's Hospital.

We understand why the CCG think the proposed move is a good idea, but they have not explained this very well to local people. We are not sure that they have fully considered the impact of the move or fully assessed other options.

We have a good understanding of how the local urgent and emergency care system fits together and the pressures that are affecting it. Our role is to make sure that the CCG are listening to people's opinions on how the proposed move will affect them and taking these into account when they make their decision.

In our response to the CCG, we told them that the consultation and public events were not as clear and informative as they needed to be.

  • People told us that the consultation materials and presentations were over-complicated.
  • We found no clear description of the work that had been done to integrate the NHS 111 and out of hours’ service and how this worked within the urgent and emergency care system.
  • At the public meetings, the presenters told people that the proposal were not about saving money but making out of hours work better for people. However, the consultation document started with a statement about the financial difficulties in the local health economy. This made people suspicious when there was no full economic analysis.
  • There appeared to be little appreciation of why the out-of-hours service was originally located at Chesterton. This was because this part of Cambridge is near to some of the most densely populated and deprived areas of the city. We understand the location was chosen due to increased demand from people living in the CB4 postcode, rather than the location of the service creating demand.

We recognise the system benefits in the proposals, for example allowing people to easily transfer between the out of hours and the emergency departments as needed. Locating the base at Addenbrooke’s Hospital would also improve accessibility for people living in other areas of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.  

We would like to have seen more effort to find out how the proposal might affect people from some of the different minority communities in Cambridgeshire, for example Gypsies and Travellers.

We know from other work we have done to talk to people about ‘urgent’ and ‘emergency’ health care, that not everyone knows the difference between these two words, particularly if their first language is not English.

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Healthwatch Cambridgeshire response to the Cambridge Integrated Out of Hours GP base consultation