Health Committee Loses Patience With NHS Over Service Delays

Isles of Scilly Health Centre

Isles of Scilly Health Centre

Councillors have warned they’ll get the Health Minister involved if new services planned for Scilly’s Health Centre continue to suffer delays.

Members of yesterday’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee were told by Lead GP John Garman that the introduction of the revised pharmacy and optometry services are still on hold.

They were due to go live in June.

John says this is down to NHS England red tape. They’re responsible for negotiating the contracts.

And he explained that it’s a domino effect.

Doctors can no longer dispense medicines and, with only one pharmacist on the islands, there are problems with out-of-hours access.

Until they can resolve that problem, they can’t start the full contracts for GP services and access money for the optometry visits from Penzance.

It was clear that members are starting to lose patience.

Cllr Christine Savill said it was now time to hold NHS England to account.

She said the committee had teeth and it was time to start using them. She wanted to go direct to the Secretary of State for Health to sort out the issues.

Jane Hurd from Isles of Scilly Healthwatch said the GP’s are hitting a brick wall every time they try to get this resolved.

She said it’s falling on deaf ears while “bureaucrats up-country are arguing about who pays for it.”

They’ve lost sight of the fact that locals should have the services under the NHS system, says Jane.

Aisling Hicks said the Council’s Adult Social Care Manager is “incredibly concerned” that some people can’t go to the mainland for eye tests. She says it’s becoming a safeguarding issue.

Aisling suggested writing a letter of support for the local GPs but warning that they’ll refer it to the government if the issues aren’t resolved quickly.

A spokesperson for NHS England for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said the GP practice has been awarded the contract and is responsible for making arrangements for the delivery of the medical, pharmacy and optometry elements.

But they say they’re aware of some difficulties, in particular around pharmacy services.

NHS England says they’ve made a number of suggestions to the practice and have recently written with further advice.

They added that they expect services to be fully available, in the way described in the contract awarded to the practice, by the 1st February 2014.