BACK TO THE DAYS OF THE VILLAGE WITCH
"I think that we've medicalised a lot of stuff that people in the past would have dealt with themselves" Dr Brian Hope, Salford PCT Medical Director
At last night's East Salford Community Committee, both Salford councillors and the community were hyper critical of Salford PCT's proposals to scrap walk-in centres at Pendleton and Little Hulton.
While Dr Brian Hope, Salford PCT Medical Director, accepted that the walk-in centres are a "popular facility" he added that the PCT was facing some "tough decisions" to save £7.2million. The plans are to shut walk-in centres at Pendleton and Little Hulton, and to `relocate' them into one `urgent care' facility at Salford Royal Hospital.
Dr Hope explained that people should, instead go to see their GPs who "have an obligation to provide advice within 24 to 48 hours" or "look after themselves"…
"We've medicalised a lot of stuff that people in the past would have dealt with themselves" said Dr Hope, adding "I think people can look after themselves a lot of the time, given the confidence."
Dr Hope's talk was part of a consultation with Salford's community over the plans to save money in the health service. The vast majority of people who voiced their opinions in the follow up discussion were horrified at the plans to shut the walk-in centres.
Councillor Jim King called the plans "illogical…the walk-in centre has proved popular, yet despite that need you want to remove it?"
He added that plans to merge the walk-in centres into Salford Royal Hospital (formerly Hope) "won't work" because of transport difficulties, and the idea to educate people into self help was a long term prospect but "you're not going to educate them before the walk-ins are closed down".
Other members of the community explained that they couldn't get in to see their GPs for maybe three weeks, whereas with the walk-in centres you can just turn up and wait to be seen.
Dr Hope responded that there were lots of "myths and legends about people not getting in to see the doctor" and that GPs were working to improve access… "If you don't like your doctor, move".
At the edges of the argument is the inference that people should deal with health problems themselves, or "look after themselves" rather than burden the health service. This is surely going back to the days of the wise woman healer, or village witch, who claimed to know cures for every ailment…
"There is a lot of pain and anger when you take services away and I fully accept that" said Dr Hope "But (if we don't) there will be dire consequences elsewhere in the health service."
"These walk-in centres are in the most deprived areas of Salford with an ageing population" said one community representative who fiercely opposed the PCT's plans "The most vulnerable people in that community will get less and less..."
"We have some tough choices" concluded Dr Hope.
The public consultation on `urgent care services' continues until 13th December 2010.
To read the full NHS case for closing the walk-in centres click here
To give your views on the closure of the walk-in centres there's an online form here.