The current providers of the service at the Corby Urgent Care Centre have said they no longer wish to provide the service and will stop doing so when their current contract ends in a couple of months. The NHS can’t find anyone else who wishes to take on the service. If no other emergency measures are put in place by the Commissioning Group this then would presumably mean the centre would close which would have a huge effect on patients.
This course of action would affect patients in Corby as well as Kettering who also use the centre, plus it would put more pressure on Kettering General Hospital (KGH) who would have to meet the need. KGH have enough problems themselves at the moment; being embroiled in the recent waiting list scandal and with the resignations of their Chief Executive and Chairman.
The centre in Corby currently treats over 75,000 patients a year and the inconveniences to both they and to KGH would be dramatic. I remember when this story first broke a few months ago. The response from the NHS was clear; they said the centre “was not closing”. I hope therefore they have a contingency plan and can honour that promise. I guess the most obvious answer would be to pay more money? As the current operators argued that it running the centre was unprofitable as they were being paid less than nationally agreed rates. This is therefore the crux of the whole issue and presumably why the one organisation interested in taking on the work has just pulled out of negotiations.
The whole issue therefore is clearly linked to government funding of the NHS which has clearly not kept up with demand for services and put massive financial pressures on all NHS trusts. It also raises massive questions about the privatisation of the NHS. As a local Councillor I would hope the County Council will learn some lessons about relying on others to provide services as it is turning itself into a purely commissioning body and will simply hand out contracts to others to do all the things it had historically done itself.
I think this is a genuine issue for Kettering and Corby's two local MPs to get involved in and would urge anyone who is concerned to contact them directly. This surely is exactly the sort of issue they should be taking to the heart of government?! There isn't time to have arguments about the wider issue of national NHS funding or governance local action is needed now!
Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.