Health chief says aim of keeping outpatient clinics at Ely, Doddington and Wisbech to ensure ‘NHS pound spent as effectively as possible’

Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely.

Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely. - Credit: Archant

Health chiefs have promised that talks to find someone willing to run outpatient clinics at Doddington Community Hospital and Princess of Wales Community Hospital, Ely, are near to being finalised.

“These conversations are near completion and a procurement process will take place if there isn’t sufficient local interest,” says Tracy Dowling, chief officer of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

In a report to the county council health committee, Ms Dowling turns the spotlight on the community hospital provision in Ely and the Fens.

Whereas these services at the North Cambs Hospital, Wisbech, continue to be run by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital from Kings Lynn, the others are cared for by Cambridgeshire Community Services who have given notice to end their contract at the end of next March.

Radiography services are run by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation and they, too, have served notice.

“The CCG is working with local providers to ensure a provider can take over both outpatient and x-ray services from April 2017,”says Ms Dowling.

She says the CCG is reviewing all the services provided at the three sites with the aim of ensuring “that the NHS pound is spent as effectively as possible ensuring there isn’t unnecessary duplication of services”.

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One idea being looked at could involve larger GP federations and community based services such as those for the elderly, long term conditions and minor injury units (MIU).

Ms Dowling says the situation is complication by the fact different clinics run from the different sites. These include specialities such as ENT, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and gynaecology” but some of the clinics are not being used as much as they would expect.

“We are working to increase use of local services and we will be working with the new provider and local GPs to look at ways to enable greater number of people to access the clinics,” says Ms Dowling.

So far as the MIUs are concerned she admitted venues for earlier meetings could not accommodate those wanting to comment and so an extra four public events were provided.

“No decisions have been made about the future of the minor injury services in east Cambridgeshire and Fenland,” she says.

She said the CCG was at “an early stage of its review” and if significant changes were considered necessary then formal consultations would take place.

But she admitted there had been “a temporary pause” on admissions to the extra care unit at Doddington Court “on patient safety grounds. The CCG’s priority is priority is the safety of patients and at the present time there are concerns around the levels of care which can be safely provided to support patients with more complex needs”.