Janet Cree clarified that the CCG had not taken a decision to close Parsons Green WiC but had requested an extension from NHS England to keep the WiC open so that the existing service would remain. Further information was contained in a letter on the CCG’s website. At the present time there were no plans to change the WiC.
Councillor Richardson enquired what had led to the confusion, a reprieve had been sought, then refused and then reprieved supposedly again following a Parliamentary announcement from Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health. Janet Cree responded that NHS guidance had set out that a change was required in December 2019 which was reported to the Committee. The CCG had dialogue with NSH England during this time.
Jim Grealy pointed out that the initial directive to close had come from NHS England but that the CCG statement indicated that Parsons Green would not continue. He asked if it was necessary now to rename Parsons Green since it cannot be called a “WiC” and that it would have to put in place a bookable appointment system. There was a difference between a WiC, and urgent need and it would be helpful to understand this. Janet Cree responded that several GP surgeries offered WiC appointments and wound care and was of a similar model. The CCG planned to utilise workforce and capacity within the existing system which was not being used optimally and replace this with a mixed model of care. This could have GP and nurse appointment systems running simultaneously.
A member of the public sought further clarity about when the WiC intended closure around the end of March and whether any extensions were likely. Janet Cree confirmed that was the case, but changes would not need to have happened by the end of March. The CCG planned to undertake required engagement with stakeholders and although WiC provision may no longer be offered at Parsons Green, the unit may look different in future. It was confirmed that 53% of patient activity was from residents of H&F. The wider patient footprint comprised of residents from other boroughs. Councillor Coleman observed that opposition to the closure of WiC across the country indicated widespread concern. Reflecting on the parliamentary comments about Parsons Green remaining open, it was noted that the Secretary of State had confirmed that there would be no need for the WiC to change to appointment only. Councillor Coleman acknowledged that this placed the CCG in an insidious position and potentially opened the floodgates to judicial review if the CCG decided to follow the Secretary of States’ policy.
Councillor Caleb-Landy asked if it was possible to establish what the financial impact would be on the budget to reconfigure the WiC. Janet Cree responded this could be checked and would depend on the specification which might comprise of both WiC and appointments. In a response to a question from Victoria Brignell Janet Cree noted that Parsons Greens was regarded as a centre of excellence for ear syringing and that the service would continue after 31 March 2020
ACTION: CCG to identify the financial impact on reconfiguring the WiC.
ACTION: For the PAC to feed into the engagement work planned by the CCG. Further information about the CCGs plans for the WiC post 31st March 2020 to be shared given that it no longer meets the required NHSE standard for urgent treatment centres.
The CCG and provider to provide further updates and for the Committee to continue to monitor developments closely.