Public health chief Liz Robin orders immediate halt to ‘consulations’ that would end 7-day a week out of hours GP cover at Ely and in the Fens

Cambs public health boss Liz Robin calls for immediate halt to 'consultations' that would axe GP out

Cambs public health boss Liz Robin calls for immediate halt to 'consultations' that would axe GP out of hours cover in Ely and the Fens. Graphic: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Health chief Liz Robin effectively ordered an immediate halt to consultations over the proposed axing of 80 per cent of the out of hours GP cover at Doddington and Ely hospitals.

North Cambs Hospital at Wisbech out of hours cover is also at risk.

In a stinging rebuke to Herts Urgent Care (HUC) who deliver the services on behalf of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) she said she had "formally" demanded the talks are halted.

Following days of angry exchanges with councillors concerned by the cuts, Ms Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, stepped into the controversy.

She told councillors that that the CCG - of which she is a co-opted member - wants staff consultations halted straight away.

"A full engagement plan is to be provided that includes how we assess against a range of options," she told councillors.

Any decision on reductions, she said, will require impact assessments to be undertaken and consultations will need to take place.

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"As accountable officer, I will personally oversee and assure the engagement and review any recommendations prior to any further staff consultations," she said.

County councillor Dave Connor said the message from her tonight sounded an optimistic note.

He had written to health bodies telling them of the need for "a full reversion of their ludicrous plans that would hit the most vulnerable in our society".

Cllr Connor said he recognised the CCG needed to save up to £1 million a week from their budget but attacking the weak and isolated in society through this draconian measure was not the answer.

He accused the CCG of "wasting our money which is how they've got themselves into this mess".

Councillor Peter Hudson, chairman of the county health committee, said tonight he was asking for urgent clarification over the plans from the CCG, who commission the services, which would affect communities already disadvantaged by too few health services.

Cllr Hudson said: "I am really very concerned regarding the reduction in services being proposed by the CCG.

"They have not consulted with local councillors or with our health committee, which has a statutory responsibility to scrutinise changes to the local health care, particularly those that affect local people.

"Let's be clear, the out of hours GP services play a critical role in both Fenland and Ely where there are no others services of this nature.

"The ramifications are that the CCG will be short changing communities that are already disadvantaged in terms of health. If these reports are true, we will be sticking up for local people - access to health services shouldn't be based on a postcode but are a universal right in this country wherever you live."

He added: "Cambridgeshire County Council's health committee has the statutory responsibility to scrutinise changes in the local health system.