Alma Road Surgery Closure Opposed

Yesterday we heard that a Peterborough woman sent away from the Walk-In centre with a diagnosis of allergic reaction, died the following day from a flesh-eating bug. In the light of recent perceived failings at the NHS Walk-In Centre, which is effectively a triage service, a cross-party consensus of councillors repeat their objection to the closure of the Alma Road out-of-hours doctors’ surgery.

Cllr John Peach talks to the BBC’s Paul Stainton in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, and this interview was broadcast at 07:38 on Thursday 12th August 2010.

PS: Now yesterday we heard about the tragic case of Evelyn Crawford from Peterborough, and it really brought a lump to my throat and took my breath away, doing an interview with her son in law. She died just thirty six hours after being sent home from the city’s Walk-In centre on Thorpe Road. Staff thought she was suffering from an allergic reaction, but she was later diagnosed at PDH with a flesh eating infection. Two city councillors have now questioned the quality of care provided. The service is run by NHS Peterborough Community Services, who are contracted by NHS Peterborough. One of the concerned councillors is John Peach. Morning John.
JP: Good morning Paul.
PS: It really .. it brought a lump to my throat yesterday, talking to the son in law, and listening to the story. And it seemed to me that Evelyn wasn’t served particularly well.
JP: No. Obviously I don’t know anything, any details about the case. I only heard it on your station yesterday. But it was very sad. I have heard similar, although I’m pleased to say not quite so tragic, complaints about the Walk-In centre on Thorpe Road. And my concern is that in my ward, Park Ward, they are wanting to close the Alma Road Walk-In centre, which is actually manned by doctors. There’s about five or six GPs based there, and it’s open from seven in the morning till ten at night, and you can go in and either register with a doctor there, or just walk in and be seen by a doctor. And the thing about the centre on Thorpe Road seems to be that you go in, they only have nurses there. I think there is some way that they can call a doctor, but they only have nurses there when you go in and see somebody. And the nurses either say, well I don’t really think it’s much, go away we’ll give you a pat on the shoulder and you’ll get better, or they refer you to the hospital. Which either way is not much use, and has obviously seen tragic consequences in this case.
PS: It does seem remarkable, doesn’t it, that we’re closing one centre down that has trained doctors. And the nurses can do their best, can’t they, at the Walk-In centre ..
JP: Of course. Yes.
PS: .. but they can’t diagnose, you know ..
JP: I have no criticism, because I am sure they do their best, and I don’t know anyone that works there. It’s not a criticism, either personal or in any other way. But it does seem silly that the Primary Care Trust, NHS Peterborough, want to close this lovely facility they opened eighteen months ago in Alma Road. And everybody that goes there says how great it is. It’s got lovely parking facilities, near a deprived area of town and great need, and they want to close that and keep the other one open.
PS: We asked Peterborough Community Services who run the Walk-In centre on behalf of NHS Peterborough, to come on air today, but they sent us a statement instead. It goes like this: “The Walk-In centre at Peterborough is a nurse-led service which is open seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year, from seven am to ten pm. Nurses have received advanced training to enable them to deal with a wide range of minor illnesses and injuries, and can directly refer into the local hospital if necessary. They can also arrange an appointment with the patient’s own GP if appropriate.” That’s the statement from them. We also asked NHS Peterborough to come on. Again they sent a statement. They said: “There are five GPs, which is equivalent to three and a half full time GPs, working at Alma Road Primary Care centre, who are able to see unregistered walk in patients through their walk in centre service.” So it does seem strange, doesn’t it, that Alma Road is closing down, when it’s got all this expert level of care, and we’re not intending to move those services to the Walk-In centre.
JP: It seems ridiculous to me. The City Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee have twice asked the PCT and the NHS not to go ahead with the consultation, which we believe is flawed. There’s quite a lot of inaccuracies in the consultation. They’ve decided to ignore those comments and go ahead with it. They are going ahead with it now over a period when there’s a lot of people away, and although I appreciate the Primary Care Trust is in an awkward financial position, and as you know we’ve seen the Chief Executive resign some time ago, we’re now on it’s third Chief Executive. We heard that the Chairman of the Board wasn’t going to resign and then apparently he did. I know that they’re in financial straits, but it does seem silly to close a lovely centre that everybody treasures in Alma Road, with properly qualified GPs, new equipment, new buildings, good facilities, good car parking, when they refer people to a nurse-led service which as your listeners have heard, certainly does have a question mark over its care.
PS: Yes. And not only you upset about this, Coucnillor Nick Sandford for the LibDems as well, so it’s cross-party.
JP: That’s right. And also we’ve had councillors, the Labour councillors from Central Ward. As you were saying Nick Sandford the Liberal Democrat, and also Keith Sharp the Mayor is very concerned about the Alma Road surgery closing.
PS: Sue says: As for the tragedy of the poor lady who went to the Walk-In centre, I have no confidence in them either. I don’t keep well, and hubby took me there once. They said it was a waterworks infection. I knew it wasn’t, but they wouldn’t listen, and sent me away. This weekend we were at our place in Hopton-on-Sea and hubby had to take me to the James Paget Hospital. What a difference. They were amazing, and so thorough, blood tests, X-rays etcetera. What is happening to our city? we are full up.” So somebody else not very happy about the level of service that they get. And that was sent to us on Facebook. You can get in touch with the show via Facebook. We’re Peterborough Breakfast Show if you want to be our friend. You can get us on email. It’s On the text it’s 81333. Start your message with the word PETE. And 315444, if you’ve got anything to say on any of the stories you hear on the show. It’s your Peterborough Breakfast Show for the city, from the city, five days a week. John, thank you for coming in.
JP: Thank you.
PS: And I am sure you’ll be continuing the battle within the Council’s walls.
JP: Most certainly.
PS: Councillor John Peach.