But a report has revealed several doctors' practices have already pulled out of £37 million plans for five new shared GP health centres, ahead of formal consultation.
And an NHS engagement project run with residents affected by the scheme has found most people who responded did not support the project and were unwilling to travel further to use better, more modern buildings.
The proposals to build the five new GP health centres is expected to move a step forward today when Sheffield NHS Clinical Commissioning Group committee members get their opportunity to look at more detailed proposals in a pre-consultation business case (PCBC).
They recommend starting an official consultation on the scheme on July 18, lasting for 10 weeks.
Travel concerns over health centres
But officials are being told that the initial feedback from the public, which saw 2,205 people respond, has revealed nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of people said they were not willing to travel further, even if it meant they got better care.
Overall, there was no agreement from respondents on whether building new GP health centres was a good idea or not, with slightly more people disagreeing than agreeing.
Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of people agreed that their GP currently provided a good environment for healthcare, but a large majority (76 per cent) of people agreed that more investment is needed in GP services in their area.
The report also stated that people’s main concern was about the current availability of appointments with many feeling having more patients at one site would make appointments harder to get, although some felt that these proposals may help to make appointments more available.
Pitsmoor, Norwood, Elm Lane and Southey Green, Devonshire and Hannover medical centres
The report before the committee also reveals Pitsmoor Surgery, which was included in the pre-consultation engagement on early proposals is now pursuing an option to develop its current premises.
Norwood Medical Centre is pursuing funding to extend and improve their buildings and would not relocate to a new health Centre. And Elm Lane surgery and Southey Green practice have now stated they will not move to a potential new health centre.
Devonshire Green Medical Centre and Hannover Medical Centre have withdrawn from the town centre scheme.
Four of the planned sites for the new centres are now known, but no venue has yet been proposed for the planned town centre hub.
Burngreave, Fir Vale, Upwell Street surgeries
There would be a site on Spital Street, near Burgreave, for patients at Burngreave Surgery and Sheffield Medical Centre.
There would be a site at Rushby Street, near Fir Vale, for patients at Page Hall Surgery and Upwell Street Surgery.
A centre would be created at Concord Sports Centre, near Shiregreen, for Dunninc Road Surgery, and Shiregreen Surgery.
Land on Wordsworth Avenue and Buchanan Road, near Parson Cross, would be used for patients at Margetson Surgery, Buchanan Road Surgery and The Healthcare Surgery.
Shiregreen, Margetson Surgery, Buchanan Road, City and Mulberry surgeries
In the city centre, City Practice and Mulberry Practice would move to a redeveloped town city building, which has yet to be identified
The plans were put forward after surveys undertaken by independent surveyors found over £750,000 would need to be spent to address backlog maintenance items in Sheffield practices.
Dr Terry Hudsen, GP and Chairman of NHS Sheffield CCG said, “As the name suggests, this document is not the final proposal, but it gives sufficient detail to enable us to consult with local people and organisations.
“The purpose of a PCBC is to weigh up the costs and benefits of the suggested course of action and present the case for taking up the £37m funding for Sheffield.
“This has been produced following pre-consultation engagement where we informed tens of thousands of people, receiving feedback from 2,205 of those.”
Over the summer the NHS in Sheffield will be launching a consultation and members of the public will be able to have their say on plans.
The Health Care and Dunnic Road surgeries
Dr Nicola Williams is a GP from the Green Cross Group Practice which runs The Health Care and Dunnic Road surgeries. She said: “We think these plans are really exciting but need to hear from our patients and understand the impact of any potential changes. It’s important to stress that they might not go ahead.
“More than 50,000 patients could benefit from the developments which would support us to tackle health inequalities in the city.
“The areas chosen haven’t benefited from new funding for the development of GP buildings for many years.
Modern and flexible spaces
“The changes will create modern and flexible spaces offering a range of services to patients, joining up local services and improving the use of digital technology in primary care.”
It’s anticipated that the public consultation will begin on 18 July 2022. There will be opportunities for people to make their voices heard online, via email or post, as well as in person either at a public meeting or via a community group.
The NHS in Sheffield is taking the documents to its primary care commissioning committee on June 23, looking to proceed to consultation.
Plans – initially put forward by GPs themselves – would see some new, modern buildings built where several practices can have a base, along with some other useful services on site.
A few existing GP practices will share a building but not their patients. There are no plans to merge GPs into ‘super surgeries’ with thousands of patients on their books and people will stay with their own GP and receive the same personalised care
The new centres might include other services such as outpatients and diagnostics, talking therapies and others, reducing trips to hospital and other locations for treatment.