Controversial plans by NHS Sheffield CCG to close 15 surgeries in the city and merge them into new hubs have been strongly criticised.
Sheffield has £37m of government funding to build up to five new health centres bringing GP practices and other services under one roof.
But one councillor says patients in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods will be hit the hardest, there’s little public transport to the new areas and the consultation is misleading.
Which surgeries are affected?
Current surgeries Pitsmoor, Burngreave, Cornerstone branch and Sheffield Medical Centre could move to Catherine Road or Sheffield Medical Centre.
Herries Road, Page Hall Medical Centre and Upwell Street surgery could move to Rushby Street.
Shiregreen Medical Centre, Elm Lane, Firth Park and Dunninc Road could move to Concord Sports Centre.
The Health Care Surgery, Buchanan Road, Southey Green Medical Centre, Melrose surgery branch and Margetson surgery branch could move to Buchanan Road/Wordsworth Avenue.
Clover City Practice and the Mulberry Practice could move to a location yet to be confirmed.
One option is for surgeries to stay as they are and not build the new health centres at all.
‘Deeply worrying’ says councillor
Councillors were presented with the lengthy document only the night before a scrutiny meeting.
Coun Abtisam Mohamed said: “This will mean the closure of 15 GP practices in the north east of Sheffield and that’s deeply worrying.
“Are we absolutely sure that the quality of care is not going to be affected? There’s four very busy GP practices that we’re thinking of consolidating.
“Even though we’re proposing new health centres it means the closure of the smaller localised provision.
“It goes against everything we stand for in the council in terms of localising provision and making sure that communities are a central part of every decision that we make in terms of that care and our support.
“This is about people who are vulnerable, who will be ill, who need localised support within their community. It doesn’t put patients at the heart of delivering care.
“I feel very saddened that this is going to further disadvantage communities. I don’t see any evidence or information that this is going to improve the quality of care.
“All I see is a service that’s going to be reduced for people with mobility issues that have less access. All this has been developed without that in mind.
“There’s reference throughout the document that accessibility will be an issue, but the overall proposals don’t don’t take that into account.
“The majority of this takes place in the most disadvantaged constituency in Sheffield and we are reducing the level of personalised care that’s there.
“I understand there’ll be a business case but that’s not how we should be developing our care. Patients should be the central core of what we’re delivering and if that’s not the driving force, it shouldn’t be the money.”
‘Patients will struggle to access new hubs’
Coun Mohamed said she was really worried about vulnerable and older people and accessibility.
“We’re moving from roads where there’s lots of public transport to potential areas where there’s no public transport.
“We’ve campaigned with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport to keep services and these surgeries will be completely gone. People who are not easily able to access the services are going to find it challenging.
“When you remove GP practices from local areas, these become empty buildings, there’s less footfall and that affects other small businesses and pharmacists and that has not been given any consideration.”
Criticism of consultation
Coun Abtisam also criticised the consultation. “This puts disadvantaged people into a corner where they want investment and they want additional resources in their GP practices but the only way they’re going to get that is by accepting these terms.
“So they have to stick with their not so good service or have to think about whether they’re going to be able to access a hub.
“This is going to be very controversial within communities and I feel there might be petitions coming forward about this.
“Had this been discussed three steps back where you actually worked with communities we would be in a different situation. You’re putting something on the table which will be controversial.”
Coun Ruth Milsom agreed. “This is conditional funding that we get trapped into and there isn’t a real choice. I have concerns about the engagement, we have been here before with consultations and I think it’s both leading and misleading.”
Lucy Davies of Sheffield Healthwatch was also critical.
“I feel frustrated that we’re missing an opportunity here for a proper dialogue because we’re not starting from a good point.
“We are starting from a plan that’s been brought together by GPs themselves some time ago without the involvement of the community.
“People deserve to properly understand that information. I’m not sure a survey at this stage is the most helpful thing, it should be a dialogue. Meetings where people can sit and hear the context would be much more useful.”
‘We want people’s views’
The CCG says this is “just the start of a conversation” and it will take on board people’s views to develop a business case.
Dr Terry Hudsen, GP and chairman of NHS Sheffield CCG said: “The funding is fantastic news for the city and if the health centres are built, could see more than 100,000 patients benefiting from more modern health premises and joined-up services.
“I would encourage anyone who lives in the areas where a new health centre is planned to have their say as we want our plans to meet the needs of local communities.
“I want to stress that this engagement is about exploring the possibility of new health centres, no plans have been agreed on the locations or which, if any, practices will move.”