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Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced its decision on the location of the city’s fourth Healthcare Hub – committing to the site of the existing walk-in service at the Merlyn Vaz Health and Social Care Centre for at least the next three years.

From 1st October  2017 the new service will offer urgent GP and nurse appointments from 8.00am to 8.00pm, 365 days a year.  Both pre-bookable and walk-in appointments will be offered, although the CCG and service provider will work together to encourage as many patients as possible to book into guaranteed slots. It is hoped this will help reduce waiting times and make maximum use of available GP and nurse time.

The contract, which is subject to procurement, will be for an initial period of three years with an option to extend for up to two further years. SSAFA, the existing provider of the walk-in service, will continue to offer unchanged services for patients until its contract ends on 30th September.

The announcement follows seven weeks of engagement in which the CCG asked people for their views on whether the service should be located at either the Merlyn Vaz Health and Social Care Centre or the Leicester General Hospital site.

Taking in to account the range of views expressed by patients, the CCG has decided it would not be appropriate to move the service at least until there is greater clarity regarding the future of the Leicester General Hospital site – which will be subject to formal consultation as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

Professor Azhar Farooqi, GP and Chair of Leicester City CCG, said: “While we still believe that there may be benefits in relocating the service to the Leicester General Hospital site we also recognise the importance of continuity and familiarity for patients.

“Coupling the views of patients and stakeholders with the lack of certainty about what other services may or may not be provided from the General campus in the future, we felt that now was simply not the right time to move the service.

“By procuring the contract for a minimum of three years it enables us to offer certainty to patients in the medium term while also giving us time to continue to assess the impact of the STP and the options and opportunities this may give us in the future.”

The service offered at the Merlyn Vaz Health and Social Care Centre will complement the three existing hubs in the city which already offer around 1,500 extra pre-bookable GP and nurse appointments each week. These are located at:

  • Westcotes Health Centre: open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week;
  • Belgrave Health Centre: open 6.30pm to 10pm Monday to Friday, and 12noon to 8pm at weekends and bank holidays; and
  • Saffron Health: open 6.30pm to 10pm Monday to Friday, and 12noon to 8pm at weekends and bank holidays.

The hub at Westcotes Health Centre will also shortly begin offering a range of simple diagnostics such as blood tests, pregnancy tests, electrocardiographs (ECG) for heart monitoring, and ultrasound. These services will be available to all city patients and will be accessible through their GP.

About the Engagement

  • Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) engaged with patients in Leicester during February and March 2017 to ask for their views on the location of a fourth healthcare hub in the city. This was to replace the walk-in centre at Merlyn Vaz Health and Social Care Centre when its contract comes to an end on 30th September 2017.
  • The survey closed on Sunday 26th March 2017.
  • 56% of respondents said they would prefer the fourth hub to be at Leicester General Hospital, compared to 31% who said they would prefer it to be at Merlyn Vaz. The remainder said that they did not know or had no preference.
  • Despite this, a number of respondents told the CCG that they had reservations about any move to the General hospital taking place before consultation under the STP on the future of the site had taken place.
  • 54% of respondents to the survey either strongly agreed or agreed that most appointments at the hub should be booked in advance with a smaller proportion as walk-in appointments. 22% disagreed or strongly disagreed, with the remainder neither agreeing nor disagreeing.

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