Patients facing 'longer journeys' to access vital treatment, MP says

Wakefield CCG ended several contracts with private healthcare firms last year, meaning some patients have further to travel for treatment.
Wakefield CCG ended several contracts with private healthcare firms last year, meaning some patients have further to travel for treatment.

Concerns that NHS patients in the south-east of the Wakefield district are being forced to travel 12 miles into the city for vital treatment have been raised by the area's MP.

Jon Trickett says that elderly and vulnerable people needing appointments will struggle to visit Wakefield, where a number of medical services have been recently relocated from the Hemsworth and South Elmsall area.

Hemsworth and South Elmsall MP Jon Trickett said the situation was "bad news" for his constituents.

Hemsworth and South Elmsall MP Jon Trickett said the situation was "bad news" for his constituents.

Patients needing hand surgery, gynaecology treatment, endoscopies and those needing to see a specialist about an ear, nose or throat problem are among those affected.

It comes after a number of private healthcare firms, who ran those services on behalf of the NHS, did not have their contracts renewed when they ended last year.

Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) brought the services back in-house after deciding that some providers weren't able to meet toughened new standards on patient care.

But that move has affected patients who used to be treated by firms like Phoenix Health Solutions, who are based in South Elmsall but lost their NHS contract.

As a result, some now have to travel to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield for appointments.

Mr Trickett, who has written to health bosses about the issue, said: "The CCG's decision to withdraw further contracts for local health services is bad news for local patients and health services across the district.

"It will mean longer journeys to access vital treatment for patients and further pressure on existing services at Pinderfields and other facilities.

"The CCG must recognise the value that these local health services provide to local communities, and the wider health system, and I have strongly urged them to reconsider their decision."

The CCG has again insisted that the decision not to renew the contracts was an attempt to raise standards of care and reduce waiting times within the local NHS.

It says that patients were often forced to travel extensively to other areas under the old system, because some providers couldn't offer a complete course of treatment.

In response to Mr Trickett, the CCG's chief operating officer Pat Keane said: "When contracts for services come to an end it is right that we take the opportunity to review them to make sure that we continue to commission care that is safe, high quality, offers the best possible patient experience and meets latest national standards.

"We had a very helpful meeting with Jon Trickett in autumn last year to talk about this and we are aware that, like us, he wants the best for his constituents.

"However, as we explained, the services he referred to that are provided by the independent sector in the south east of the district are only based there because that is where the providers have their premises, not because services are needed there more than in any other parts of the district."

A public consultation on the changes last summer produced a mixed response from patients, and an angry one from providers, including Phoenix.

The company launched a petition against the new standards, which attracted more than 1,000 signatures, but it was in vain.