Closure plan under attack at meeting

Ilkeston walk in medical centre, Ilkeston hospital.
Ilkeston walk in medical centre, Ilkeston hospital.

Tempers flared at a chaotic meeting on Tuesday to discuss plans to close Ilkeston’s walk-in centre and a GP surgery.

Angry patients registered at Ilkeston Family Practice blasted the other six GP surgeries in Ilkeston, where they have now been asked to re-register.

One said the service they received at the practice, based on the Ilkeston Community Hospital site was ‘the best they have ever had’.

Patient Peter Hunt, who is blind, moved there after difficulties getting an appointment at Littlewick Medical Centre in Nottingham Road.

“It was an emergency and they told me I would have to wait nine days for an appointment,” he said.

He re-registered at Ilkeston Family Practice where he said he has been very happy with the service. His daughter told the meeting: “You are taking away the service, the care, the guidance that he has needed.”

Director of commissioning for NHS Derbyshire Vikki Taylor said: “If GPs arene’t taking on patients they will be in breach of their contracts.

“I wouldn’t consider that to be acceptable.”

It was also revealed at the meeting that the practice, run by a company called Integral Healthcare Partnership, based in Lancashire, had a five-year contract with the NHS, which it has ended a year early.

This, according to Ms Taylor, was because ‘they haven’t managed to attract the number of patients that was agreed at the beginning of the contract’.

In fact the 1,600 patients registered last year was less than half the 4,000 the firm had said it could attract and the 14,400 visiting the walk-in centre was again well under half.

“If I took a lease on a shop for five years I am expected to take it on for five years,” said patient Dave Edwards, who accused the NHS of having made a ‘done deal’ and said the meeting was ‘paying lip service’ to patients.

“They are not fulfilling their obligation,” he added.

Ms Taylor replied: “We have worked with this practice over the last 12 months at least to look at ways they can continue to deliver the service and increase numbers of patients.”

The NHS representatives at the meeting, including Dr Doug Black, a Nottingham-based GP, repeated a number of times that alternatives to the walk-in centre, after it closes in February are extended opening hours at the six other practices and the NHS 111 number, available 24-7.

But many in the audience said these were not real alternatives to a walk-in centre.