Sheffield NHS walk-in centre given reprieve thanks to fresh Government funding

The long term future of the NHS walk-in centre in Sheffield city centre may be secure thanks to fresh Government funding.

By Dan Hayes
Friday, 12th July 2019, 12:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 2:00 pm

The walk-in centre on Broad Lane and the minor injuries unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital had been earmarked for closure under plans to reshape urgent care facilities in the city.

They were to be replaced with a single centre at Northern General Hospital but a consultation on the proposals was unexpectedly scrapped last year after they were met with widespread public opposition.

Now, Dr Tim Moorhead, the outgoing chairman of Sheffield’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said extra money provided by the Government’s new contract for GPs meant closing the walk-in centre may no longer be needed.

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The NHS walk-in centre on Broad Lane in Sheffield city centre.

“One of the things I wanted to invest more in was general practice as most people don’t want to go to hospital,” he said.

“Because of financial constraints we have been less successful at that than I would have liked but that is on the way now with the new GP contract.

“So we might not need to do another consultation on urgent care because the changes are already happening.

“We are not proposing any changes to the walk-in centre at the present time.”

Sheffield CCG chairman Dr Tim Moorhead.

The news comes as the CCG achieved a good rating from the Care Quality Commission for the third year running, something Dr Moorhead said he was ‘really pleased’ about.

He will leave his role in the next few months after a difficult last few months for the organisation.

The CCG’s senior leadership has been embattled since the Star revealed in February medical director Dr Zak McMurray has been on special leave on full pay for more than a year.

Claims of bullying, favouritism and harassment led to the body being subject to an independent NHS England review, which was critical of the organisation’s executive team.

Maddy Ruff, former accountable officer at Sheffield CCG.

After the report was published in March, the CCG’s board agreed to produce an ‘improvement plan’ to address the criticisms it had identified.

However, despite a rocky last few months, Dr Moorhead said being the CCG’s first and so far only chair had been ‘a privilege’.

“It is a major player in health and social care in the city and a major player in society with a budget of £900m,” he said.

“Coming from medical practice to something completely different has been challenging - that is a fact.

Sheffield CCG medical director Dr Zak McMurray.

“But we have balanced the books which might seem boring but not every CCG manages it and being in debt can have a big impact.”

Dr Moorhead also pointed to improvements in musculo-skeletal services, orthopaedics and physiotherapy but did admit the unprecedented funding squeeze the NHS had experienced over the last decade had undoubtedly had a big impact on what they were able to do.

And he also addressed the bullying furore that had dominated the last few months of his tenure and led to the resignation of former accountable officer Maddy Ruff.

“We have had some internal issues but we haven’t tried to keep them secret, we have tried to talk about them,” he said.

“We accept the findings of the report and discussed our improvement plan in public at the last board meeting.

“A lot of the staff who work at the CCG have had input into it and NHS England have now signed it off.

“It has taken a bit of time to do but I think it makes for a better result. I hope it will be used to further improve and get even better.”

The only remaining outstanding senior staffing issue remains the position of medical director Dr Zak McMurray, who has been on special leave since the bullying issue began.

“I understand there are efforts going on to resolve his situation,” said Dr Moorhead.

“We all acknowledge that we need to resolve it as a matter of urgency.”