The following presentation was presented to members:
The chair thanked Tiffany Hemmings for the report and questioned when the cardiac treatment, heart failure services would be rolled out on to the Corringham site to which Rita Thakaria stated that all services allocated to the Corringham IMC were now fully functional and operational from last year but agreed to take this question away and confirm outside the meeting.
Councillor Ralph raised the issue of staff parking and roads being blocked locally to which Rita Thakaria agreed that a reminder would be sent to all staff of the allocated parking available to them and would raise at the site’s user group. Within a specific period of the opening of the building, an audit of the travel plan would need to be completed to ensure further checks and challenges could be made and that some time would be spent out in the community to understand the needs of parking, community needs and requirements and needs of the nurses.
Councillor Ralph referred to the diagnostic centre at the Grays IMC and stated the presentation had indicated that this centre would be the start of the IMC, the IMC was something that had been planned for a long time, the diagnostic centre was a new add-on to the IMC and had new funding. Tiffany Hemmings stated it had a separate funding pot and was an augmentation, but it would be fully integrated within the IMWC and confirmed that the Orsett diagnostics would move into the CDC.
Councillor Ralph also referred to the affordability and questioned whether the NHS were still dedicated and committed to the IMC buildings to which Tiffany Hemmings stated there was a commitment to the vision as specified by local Thurrock residents to deliver the integrated medical and wellbeing centre programme. The ability to fund that vision had been affected by national policy with business cases having had to be taken to the NHSE for approval. There had been no control on that pathway, engagement was being undertaken with NHSE but as this was a national issue there was not enough capital to progress onto so many different projects and programs. Once a response had been received this would be fed back to the committee but at this stage Tiffany Hemmings was unable to promise a favourable response. Councillor Ralph challenged this, but Tiffany Hemmings confirmed that NHSE would need to agree to the business cases before any decisions could be made.
Councillor Ralph referred to the closure date of Orsett Hospital and questioned whether we would now be on the verge of saying that Orsett Hospital would never close to which Tiffany Hemmings stated there was a commitment to close Orsett Hospital, with the cost of upgrading Orsett Hospital being prohibitive. Members were informed that Orsett Hospital could not be shut until all services had been successfully moved. Councillor Ralph challenged this by questioning whether a commitment was now not to close Orsett Hospital nor to building IMCs just to move the services to which Tiffany Hemmings stated that until the decision had been made no commitment could be made.
Councillor Fish questioned how the urgent treatment centre was going to be upgraded in the minor injury units to which Tiffany Hemmings stated there would be additional capabilities covering a range of illnesses and injuries, such as some treatments that would have gone to accident and emergency would now be seen in the urgent treatment centres. Councillor Fish questioned whether there would be extra staff capacity to cope with the extra level of patients to which Tiffany Hemmings stated these would be sized in terms of the population. With a project group being formed to look at that and to bring an additional business case through the NHS.
Councillor Pothecary stated her frustrations that Thurrock residents had been promised four integrated medical centres in return of Orsett Hospital being closed, that services would be relocated before the doors of Orsett Hospital shut. The shift in language was now looking at services rather than buildings and felt this was a betrayal to the people of Thurrock. Councillor Pothecary referred to the contingency planning around Purfleet and Tilbury and asked how these would now work to which Tiffany Hemmings stated this was unclear at this time as the process had just started but would look at the different options to be considered and have the right contingency plans in place. Councillor Pothecary stated the Corringham IMC had been located in an area of the borough that had the best outcomes where other areas such as South Ockendon, Purfleet, Chadwell and Tilbury had some of the highest and were crucially in need of services, those were the areas that would be left out. Tiffany Hemmings stated that the Corringham IMC had already been underway and designed as a building and already joined in as part of that program.
Councillor Pothecary referred to the Grays IMC and had concerns over the timelines that were currently being set and asked how confident the NHS were to get this delivered in 22 months. Tiffany Hemmings stated this was the best estimate currently looking at a phased approach and undertaking this in successive years. The building was refurbished which may make this easier to achieve but was dependent on many different factors, initially the funding and then the business case. Councillor Pothecary questioned what residents of Thurrock were losing to accommodate this refurbished IMC. Tiffany Hemmings stated nothing, the buildings were currently unused or underutilised with one of the buildings being the vaccination centre. Councillor Pothecary questioned further whether the Grays IMC would be purpose built to which Tiffany Hemmings stated it would be purpose built but within the confines of existing buildings. Members agreed this was not what was promised and had fallen short of the promise of a purpose-built building to be delivered.
Councillor Ralph stated the initial walk around of the site were obviously not now going to happen and questioned whether the new diagnostic centre would be a new or refurbishment building to which Tiffany Hemmings stated it would be a brand-new building.
Councillor Polley questioned why the CDC was receiving all the drive and delivery where the plans for the IMC changed on a monthly basis and questioned whether the funding for the CDC formed part of the £16 million site plan and had concerns on what would cost £16 million to go into these existing buildings.
Councillor Polley referred to the Fellowship Scheme and questioned the reduction in potential numbers to which Tiffany Hemmings stated there had been six people lined up but had had some withdrawals. That advertising of these roles would continue with 12 vacancies to fill with the potential for more in subsequent years.
Councillor Polley requested from the previous meeting that more information be provided on GP appointment being physical or telephone appointments.
Councillor Piccolo stated his utter disappointment that only one IMC was in place with the other three still being discussed and that hopefully those people responsible could turn it round otherwise it would leave Thurrock being in a worst position that what it had been in the first place.
Councillor Ralph thanked members for their open and honest discussions this evening and the disappointment that the update had provided. This was now a standing item on the work programme and would welcome a more favourable update at the next meeting.
At 8.40pm, Tiffany Hemmings left the meeting.