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Urgent Care Services

Volume 556: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2013

The configuration of urgent care services is a matter for the local NHS, and commissioners should ensure that there is provision of appropriate urgent care services locally to provide safe and effective care for patients.

A review of urgent care services by the new GP-led clinical commissioning group for Solihull is causing consternation as it is throwing the future of our highly regarded walk-in centre into doubt. Does the Minister agree that users must be properly consulted, as services must be designed around patients, and that allocation to cost centres must come second to delivering services?

I agree with my hon. Friend. Where there are well-functioning local services that have local support, commissioners should recognise that in their decisions, but it is also important to highlight that any reconfiguration of local services has to meet the four tests laid down by the previous Secretary of State: support from GP commissioners; strengthened public and patient engagement; clarity on the clinical evidence base; and support for patient choice. I hope that reassures my hon. Friend.

One of the ways in which the Government are trying to prevent urgent care and A and E admissions is by holding down the funding for unplanned admissions to 30% above 2009 levels. That is proving very hard in places where many people who arrive for A and E or urgent care are not registered with a GP. What can the Minister do to help with the funding of services in communities where it has proved impossible to reduce A and E admissions?

The hon. Lady rightly highlights that there are challenges ensuring registration with GPs, particularly in areas with large migrant population groups. In some parts of London, each year as many as one third of patients move and change GP surgeries. This is a big challenge and we are encouraging local hospitals to make sure that people who turn up at A and Es inappropriately subsequently register with a GP.