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Judge halts plans to change GP walk-in centre into an appointment-only hub

A judge has halted plans to turn a walk-in service into an appointment-only GP hub in Northamptonshire, after the CCG failed to consult the public.

The High Court judge ruled that before the proposed changes could take place, NHS Corby CCG must conduct a full public consultation about changes to the services.

Pulse had previously reported that from March 2019 patients will ring their GP practice and speak to a ‘trained navigator’ who will book them into same-day appointments at their GP practice or a ‘same day access hub’ run via an APMS contract if no appointments are available elsewhere.

However, resident-led Save Our Urgent Care Action Group brought a case against NHS Corby CCG after a consultation on the new service never materialised.

At the judicial review hearing in Cardiff, Judge Milwyn Jarman said the walk-in centre was made popular by ‘the quality of the service’ and the ‘ease of access’ it provided. He said that ‘any change to it had the potential to be seen as a loss to Corby’.

The judge added that there was ‘no good reason for not fulfilling the legitimate expectation of consultation which the CCG had raised’.

He also found that the CCG failed to consider the impact of the decision on those with learning disabilities, mental health problems and non-English speakers.

Solicitor Rowan Smith, who represented the Save Our Urgent Care Action Group, said: ‘The importance of this judgement cannot be overstated. Against the odds, Corby campaigners have held the CCG to its repeated promises to consult them before significantly downgrading a much-loved local service.’

NHS Corby CCG said in a statement that they ‘engaged intensively with the people of Corby over the past year and a half’ but acknowledged that the judge ‘did find that the statements made last year meant the public had been led to expect a consultation’.

It added: ‘For that reason, a consultation exercise should now follow… We must ensure there is no disruption when the urgent care centre contract expires next Spring (31 March 2019).

‘The decision makes this more challenging and we will now focus our efforts on addressing that.’