Under threat outpatients’ services at Doddington Hospital have won a temporary reprieve, health chiefs have revealed.
The clinics were set to close at the end of May, and be transferred to acute hospitals outside of the area, as NHS bosses had failed to find anyone to take over the running of them after 12 months of talks.
But Cambridgeshire Community Services (CCS) NHS Trust has now agreed to continue providing the service until March 31 next year to give Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) extra time to find an alternative provider.
In an announcement, CCS chairman Matthew Winn said the board discussed the issue relating to Doddington Hospital, and also the same situation at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Ely, and the “unenviable position this placed staff and patients in” on Wednesday.
He added: “I am pleased to confirm that the Trust board has agreed to extend its notice period with the CCG until March 31, 2017. We hope this decision provides staff and local people with reassurance, whilst the CCG plans to commission sustainable local services and appoint an alternative provider for outpatient services on the community hospital site.”
The CCS had originally given notice to the CCG that it no longer wished to run the services in May last year.
And the CCG had warned that if another provider could not be found, the services would cease from June 1 and transferred to either Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntington, Peterborough City Hospital or Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge.
Tracey Dowling, chief operating officer of the CCG, said the reprieve “will enable the CCG to go out to formal tender for the services, so that a new provider is in place in good time.”
She added: “I would like to reassure patients that these services are continuing and thank staff for their patience in recent weeks. We know how valued these services are and we are working with local GPs to increase their use over the coming months. We will be reviewing how to make best use of these important services in the community as part of the procurement.”
The CCS announcement has been welcomed by Fenland MP Steve Barclay who held an urgent meeting with Ms Dowling, GPs and staff after news of the clinics’ possible closure was made public.
He said lack of use and financial viability were blamed for the lack of an alternative provider coming forward and discovered local doctors were having difficulties referring patients to the hospital.
He called for urgent action to allow patients to be referred locally by their GPs and also wanted the CCG to provide figures on how many patients would make the outpatients services financially viable.
He said: “I welcome the decision to continue outpatient services at Doddington and Ely Hospitals for the next 12 months although it is regrettable that staff were put through the worry they have experienced over the last week.
It’s important that we use the additional time to fully review the referrals process from GPs and other clinicians including physiotherapists and also look at the needs of the population Fenland wide to see what additional outpatient services could be provided at Doddington and Ely to make the services even better.
With that in mind I have arranged a meeting next Friday with the CCG, CCS, local councillors and patient representatives, and GPs, to review the referral process and to look at how to put in place more robust arrangements to safeguard and strengthen the services offered at Doddington and Ely.