We have received this information from Bridgwater Trades Union Council about cuts to Bridgwater’s out of hours urgent care service. While we are apolitical as Bridgwater Magazine we do report on what we are sent, and welcome a response.

Yet another crucial Somerset Public Service is under threat of drastic cuts, this time the Bridgwater Treatment Centre of the Somerset “Out of Hours” Integrated Urgent Care Service/SIUCS

From its base at Bridgwater Hospital, this service has, up to now, provided non-emergency health care during “out of hours ” times, night-times and weekends, when medical centres and doctors’ surgeries are closed.

The service contract has been operated by an enterprise called “Devon Doctors” since February 2019. Despite admitting to “Increased levels of activity” and having as its slogan “Putting patients first”, Devon Doctors intend to cut the Bridgwater overnight service from Monday through to Thursday. As the nearest out of hours treatment centres are at Shepton Mallet or Taunton, this means that patients will face extra long journeys, and many home visits will be delayed way beyond the guidelines times. This is a 25% cut in the service for the whole Somerset County Council area, an area accepted as the second most rural “out of hours” service in England.

Dave Chapple, Bridgwater TUC Secretary, said,

“This savage cut to an essential NHS Service should be stopped right now. ‘Devon Doctors’ won the contract in February 2019 with a rock-bottom bid of £7 million, (next lowest was £10m) and have, I believe, already managed to run up a £1.6 million deficit.

“Why should the public suffer for the apparent gross incompetence of a private-sector provider?

“Why should patients in urgent need have to drive for an hour to Shepton Mallet for treatment that is currently available at Bridgwater?

“Several long standing and essential drivers are being threatened with redundancy, and the Devon Doctors “consultation” seems a sham, the Monday to Thursday cut has already been implemented weeks ahead of the consultation close!

“Devon Doctors are using the excuse that there is a shortage of clinical staff, if that is the case, how come they are withdrawing GP’s who cover from the Bridgwater area?”

Bridgwater TUC is calling upon local people to appeal to the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, and local NHS watchdogs including the County Council Scrutiny Committee to do the right thing and abandon this cut to the Bridgwater “Out of Hours” Service.

For further information please contact:
Dave Chapple, Bridgwater TUC Secretary 07707 869144
Email [email protected]

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