MP calls for answers over outpatients clinics at Doddington and Ely hospitals and says there is room for ‘optimism’

Steve Barclay MP

Steve Barclay MP - Credit: Archant

Local MP Steve Barclay is demanding answers over the future of outpatients clinics at Doddington Hospital and Ely’s Princess of Wales Hospital.

Doddington Community Hospital

Doddington Community Hospital - Credit: Archant

He believes lack of use has put the outpatients clinics at both hospitals in jeopardy after holding urgent talks with NHS bosses on Friday.

He was angry not to have been told about the potential loss of the outpatients services at Doddington Hospital sooner and has called for a briefing document outlining what is needed to save the clinics.

Mr Barclay, MP for North East Cambs, said: “I have met regularly with Maureen Donnelly chairman of the CCG over the past year and this was never mentioned. I have today (Friday) asked for an urgent update on what is happening.

“Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (CCS) gave notice that they no longer wished to provide the services in May last year. The CCG have had 12 months to resolve the issue and find an alternative provider.”

Princess of Wales Hospital Ely

Princess of Wales Hospital Ely - Credit: Archant

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Mr Barclay spoke with Tracey Dowling, the chief operating officer for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for providing outpatients services. He said she blamed lack of financial viability for the failure to find an alternative provider.

He also met local GPs to discuss the issue, which he first knew about after this paper broke the news on Thursday of plans to move outpatients appointments to acute hospitals from the end of the month.

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The CCG announced it was making the move after 12-months of talks had failed to find a provider willing to take over the outpatients services when the contract with current provider, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (CCS), ends on May 31.

However, Mr Barclay said his discussions on Friday with Ms Dowling left some room for optimism.

“It is not as doom and gloom as it originally appeared. It is clear from discussions today that there is potential to save outpatients services at Doddington and the Princess of Wales, and not only that but to actually increase their number.

“It appears that part of the problem is that many GPs, remarkably, are unable to book appointments for their patients at Doddington as the NHS ‘Choose and Book’ system doesn’t allow them to.

“As a result they have been referring patients to the larger hospitals which has made the outpatients at the community hospitals less financially viable.

“I understand that currently there are around 6,500 outpatient appointments at Doddington and a similar number at the Princess of Wales. But there is capacity for far more appointment.

“So therefore I am asking the CCG to set out exactly how many outpatient clinic appointments need to be conducted locally to make Doddington and the Princess of Wales Hospitals viable - the initial estimate suggests 9,000 to 10,000.”

Mr Barclay also wants a system that allows GPs to refer their patients to the local hospitals introduced immediately and is urging the public to play their part by exercising their right to be referred locally.

The CCG has had more luck at the North Cambs Hospital at Wisbech where the CCS was also responsible for providing outpatients services.

The CCG has agreed a contract with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn to run outpatients, bladder scanning, phlebotomy and endoscopy services with staff being transferred from the CCS to the QEH from the beginning of last month.

A spokesman for the CCG said: “All of the clinics provided at Doddington and Princess of Wales are available on the ‘Choose and Book’ system.

“The CCG recognises how much these services are valued locally and will continue discussions with local providers to look at other options as to how we can continue to provide these services locally.”

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