Free NHS transport service to Outwood Park Medical Centre set for axe after nine months

Outwood Park Medical Centre took on patients from Wrenthorpe Surgery when the latter closed last year.
Outwood Park Medical Centre took on patients from Wrenthorpe Surgery when the latter closed last year.

A patient transport service that was set up after a GP surgery closed is to be axed.

Elderly and frail NHS patients living in and around Wrenthorpe have been offered lifts to their doctors' appointments at Outwood Park Medical Centre, after their village surgery closed last year.

The free service was set up as a measure to mitigate the impact of the closure, but it has now been revealed that just 15 of the 229 patients offered a lift to Outwood have taken up the offer between September 2018 and April 2019.

As a result, the practice has asked for permission to end the service at the end of June.

This request was backed by a probity committee of health professionals at Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the body responsible for local NHS services, on Tuesday morning.

Clinical adviser Dr Greg Connor said that cash saved by ending the service could be reinvested into other parts of the surgery.

He said: "I went to visit the practice a couple of months ago to make sure the offers of transport were being made and that GP appointments were accessible for all patients.

"In fairness, Outwood (Park) wasn't performing spectacularly on accessibility prior to this, so in some ways the efforts they had to make to assure us about the Wrenthorpe closure galvanised them.

"It's clear to me that in terms of the low levels of patients using the transport, it's not defensible to be expending resources that could be used elsewhere in the service."

The meeting was told that patients who'd been offered the transport were choosing home visits from their GP instead.

Local councillors will now be informed of the desire to close the service, and the decision is expected to be rubberstamped by the probity committee in July.