Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
New hopes Canvey's emergency health service could be reopened
1:00pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
HOPES have been rekindled to reopen an emergency health service on Canvey in the wake of new NHS reforms.
The Saturday service, at the Oaklands Surgery in the Central Canvey Primary Care Centre, in Long Road, was axed last November despite calls to keep it open, after health officials deemed it too popular and costly to run.
The controversial decision was made by the South Essex Primary Care Trust, which will be disbanded next month in place of four new Clinical Commissioning Groups lead by local GPs.
Now, veteran Canvey councillor Ray Howard claims the battle is not yet lost as he hopes the restructure will help pave the way for fresh scrutiny on the matter.
Mr Howard said: “We must not let this one go without a fight. People are not only ill Monday to Friday and getting to Southend or Basildon hospitals on a Saturday when the A13 is gridlocked can be a nightmare.
“Everywhere I go people are constantly asking me what’s happening and how much of a benefit it was.
“I accept that sometimes people were going on a Saturday thinking it was a normal surgery, and many people on the island didn’t even know they could use it, but those problems could be easily sorted with better advertising.”
The matter was bought before Essex County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for further debate last week and Mr Howard hopes to approach the new body with residents’ concerns.
Mr Howard added: “Canvey deserves better and once this new structure is in place I will be fighting hard to get this facility back.”
Health officials launched the pilot service in 2009 hoping it would alleviate pressure on A&E services in Southend and Basildon hospitals.
However, the trust claims it saw no “tangible reductions in A&E attendance” and the “costs incurred to run the service were duplicated with the provision of a GP out of hours service already in place to serve Canvey residents.”
Ken Hawkins, chairman of the Oaklands Patient Participation Group, who wrote to the chief executive of the PCT before the service closed, said: “This has been a prime concern to all of our members before they made the final decision.
“Not everybody has a car, particularly elderly residents on the island, so getting to the hospitals can be extremely difficult. We were so disappointed with the decision. I would like to think it could reopen because it was so widely used.”