Health chiefs press ahead with plans to close Peterlee Urgent Treatment Centre overnight

NHS chiefs are pushing ahead with plans to shut Peterlee Urgent Treatment centre overnight.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 11:09 am
Peterlee Urgent Treatment Centre. Picture by Google Streetview

Proposals were revealed earlier this year by care bosses, who said low patient numbers after midnight mean it isn’t necessary to keep running a full set of services at Peterlee Community Hospital.

And following a four-week survey of the patients using the current service a ‘home visiting’ service is set to established instead, although there is not yet a timeline for the new system to be implemented.

Clair White, head of commissioning at Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Half of respondents felt their treatment could have been provided at home and were passionate and said they could see the benefits in not having to come out late at night [for treatment].

“There was a perception people could get X-rays overnight, but they couldn’t, that is a day time only service, and activity across the site has been stagnant for many years.”

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Ms White was speaking at a meeting of Durham County Council’s Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on September 6.

In April the panel expressed concerns over whether the controversial 111 telephone service would be able to manage the changes properly.

According to a report prepared for that meeting, fewer than five patients were seen by staff from Peterlee during the week between midnight - 8am.

This rose slightly on weekends, to about eight, but was still about half the numbers seen at other urgent treatment centres at University Hospital North Durham and Bishop Auckland.

A survey showed 56% of patients using the centre overnight were walk-ins, while the remaining 44% booked through NHS111.

The CCG’s report stated a GP is not needed for ‘every contact with patients’ and alternative clinicians could help provide the proposed new service.

It also admitted there were ‘ongoing issues with staffing’ for the overnight urgent treatment service, which is partly behind the plans.

It added the new model would allow patients to be visited in their own homes or, if necessary, transported to an appropriate treatment centre.

The CCG’s governing body, which would make the final decision on any change, is next due to meet on November 26.