Calls to relocate urgent care centre in Erith
PUBLISHED: 16:54 01 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 01 November 2018
Calls to close a stretched NHS facility and move it elsewhere in Erith have been backed by councillors.
The cramped and out-dated urgent care centre at Erith Hospital is working at full capacity, and concerns have been raised that the facility is unable to meet increasing demand.
NHS bosses launched a review following concerns the site is operating at a “critical level” – with patients resorting to prising doors open when the unit is full and closed.
Doors are currently being closed two hours early because so many patients are wanting care.
Councillors were told by the clinical commissioning group – the body that oversees local NHS facilities – at a meeting on October 30 that patients are being forced to sit on the floor because the waiting room is so packed.
CCG managing director Theresa Osborne said: “There have been outbreaks of patients are having to find additional room or sit on the floor.
“Doors have had to close and patients have got frustrated and cross and that has caused health and safety risks to staff.
“What we have is a burning platform at Erith Hospital that needs to be solved immanently.”
The unit is currently treating double the number of patients it was originally designed for.
NHS bosses said part of the problem is more than 70 per cent of treatments carried out at the UCC were not urgent at all, and would fall under minor injuries.
Five options were put to the scrutiny sub committee to feed back on, including doing nothing or closing the centre and moving operations to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup.
Councillors said moving it to Queen Mary’s would not work, and backed moving the UCC to Erith Health Centre.
Councillor Richard Diment said at the meeting: “I find it difficulty to imagine a situation that the site would be in use long term.
“A lot of work would need to be done that would cause a lot of disruption.
“My view is – assuming resources can be found – to looking elsewhere, such as an existing sites. It would not be my preference to move facilities to QM.”
Erith is earmarked for major growth and councillors agreed a new medical facility similar to Queen Mary’s would eventually be necessary to keep up with the ever-increasing demand.
Mrs Osborne said a short term solution was urgently needed, adding that there is capacity at Erith Health Centre to absorb services.
A completely new service for the north of the borough is hoped to be designed by 2020, according to the CCG, meaning the facility could be moved again in a few years time.
Cllr Alan Downing said: “We all accept you can not close Erith. There is more demand for services in the north of the borough.
“We do need to consider the future – beyond the next five years, because there are plans ahead for accommodation 10 or 15 years ahead.
“But in the meantime let’s keep the centre running. We all know it is not suitable but we need something there for the people in that area and then lets look seriously at Erith Health Centre taking over the UCC.”
No final decision has been made yet and further meetings and patient consultations will be held before a future move.