Some Sheffield patients may need to travel further for GP services as part of restructure plans

Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group is planning to merge GP practices into large multi-service hubs as part of improvement plans but it will mean some patients will have to travel further for their nearest surgery.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 3:35 pm
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 4:05 pm

The plans were discussed at a recent Sheffield Council adult social care scrutiny committee meeting.

Mike Speakman, of Willowbeck Management and Technical Consultants, and Abigail Tebbs, deputy director of primary care, in a co-authored report of the clinical commissioning group said there were a number of schemes planned to make primary care services more effective, efficient and sustainable across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw and that part of this work involved merging GP practices together into hubs.

Of this work across the region, there are three key programmes in Sheffield which are: transformation hub developments (costing £33.9 million), developing capacity across eight practices (costing £1.39 million) and void and underutilised space (costing £1.01 million).

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Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group said plans to merge care services will involve closing down GP sites meaning some patients will need to travel further for services. Photo by: Tolga AKMEN / AFP

On the hubs, which is the largest project, Mr Speakman and Ms Tebbs said: “Inevitably, the very act of bringing several practices together into large, multi-practice, multi-service hubs with a wider range of services provided and being co-located will mean that for some patients their nearest hub will be further away than their existing single practice surgery.

“This presents some stakeholders with significant difficulties even though the model should reduce the number of sequential trips / healthcare appointments required by many patients, by offering greater flexibility and services all in one location.

“It is essential that we work through the implications of this element of transformation, whilst recognising the vital importance of ensuring good accessibility to health care services, especially for deprived communities.”

They said once affected practices were identified, there will be a consultation with the public, patients and other stakeholders in each area which is expected to be after November.

There were some challenges with the plans for transformational hubs identified in the report including: that the council has a limited number of viable and available sites to develop into hubs, the clustering of practices may be perceived as disadvantaging some patients because of the distance they would need to travel and there would need to be significant transformation in the way services are delivered and practices operate.