New health centre to open seven days

A NEW health centre is to be built in St Neots next year, providing care 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The Government launched a national programme in December to create health centres in every Primary Care Trust area in England. The St Neots Health

A NEW health centre is to be built in St Neots next year, providing care 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Government launched a national programme in December to create health centres in every Primary Care Trust area in England.

The St Neots Health Centre - at a location still to be decided - will be open every day, including weekends and bank holidays.

Patients will be able to book appointments or just walk in. The idea is that there will always be a GP available to see patients, although people who walk in without an appointment may have to see a nurse first and only see a GP if it is considered appropriate.


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The principle will be that all patients will have the chance to see a GP within two working days or be seen by a medic within one working day.

Anyone will be able to use the health centre, no matter where they are registered with a doctor.

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The centre will be funded through £200million of Government money for the year 2009/2010.

This will increase nationally to £250 million in 2010/11 and for the following three years.

St Neots was chosen above rival locations in Huntingdon, Cambridge, March and Wisbech after a survey showed that St Neots had a lower patient satisfaction rate with doctors' services.

The survey revealed that a higher proportion of St Neots' patients had said they were unhappy about access to doctors, telephone access, seeing a GP within 48 hours, advanced booking and making an appointment with a specific GP.

Some 6,700 people expressed dissatisfaction, higher numbers than in Wisbech or central Cambridge.

A report, due to go before a board meeting of the Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust today (Wednesday) says that pressure on general practice in St Neots has been discussed for several years.

It adds that there have been issues of "manpower, workload and limitations with premises which have reached capacity".

It says that "in crude terms, St Neots has the highest ratio of patients per full-time GP." It puts the figure at 1,900 patients per GP compared to 1,385 in Huntingdon.

It adds that expected population growth in St Neots by 2021 will add another 6,500 to the town's population, compared with an extra 2,600 people for Wisbech.

The report says that St Neots also scored highest among the proposed locations because of its large centre of population with 70 per cent of adults in employment and a busy railway station meaning more people would benefit from extended surgery hours.

The scheme will go out to public consultation from next month (April). However, the form that consultation will take is yet to be decided.

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