THE deadline for responses to a major overhaul of urgent care services in Worcestershire has been extended after concerns were raised there was not enough time for people to properly scrutinise the plans.

The Worcestershire Urgent Care Strategy has been developed by a collaboration of NHS organisations throughout the county and sets out plans for the future of healthcare for the next three years in the face of falling budgets and increasing demand.

Although the public consultation on the plans was originally due to close on Wednesday, March 19, after concerns were raised at last week's meeting of the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee that this was too soon, the deadline was extended by three weeks to Wednesday, April 9.

Worcestershire Healthwatch chairman Peter Pinfield, who raised the concerns at last week's meeting, welcomed the decision, calling it "a sensible response".

"Common sense has prevailed and I'm pleased," he said.

The strategy is part of plans to reduce the strain on A&E departments throughout the county by making services available seven days a week.

If the plans are given the go-ahead the Worcester Walk-In Health Centre in Farrier Street will stop accepting ‘walk-in’ patients when the current contract expires in August as NHS bosses believe it will no longer be required, although it will continue to operate as a GP practice for registered patients.

Chief clinical officer at NHS South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Carl Ellson described the proposed changes set out in the strategy as "hugely important for the future of urgent care services in the local area".

“To ensure that local urgent care services are as effective as possible, some changes need to be made to how they are currently provided," he said.

“We’re very keen for residents to have their say on the plans.

"By listening to what our patients tell us we are able to more closely shape these plans to local needs and ensure that we provide the best range of local urgent care services.”

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