Dec 6 2012 by John Rowbotham, Hamilton Advertiser
A new treatment room service for Hamilton starts next week – despite protests from patients, GPs and politicians.
The service previously carried out at the town’s eight individual doctor’s surgeries will, from Monday, be centralised at Douglas Street Community Health Clinic.
Patients requiring the service from four of the practices – Douglas Street Surgery; Burnbank Medical Centre; Oak Lodge Medical Practice, and The Surgery, Burnbank – will from now on be referred to the new unit.
Treatments provided there will include phlebotomy (taking bloods), injections, leg ulcer management, wound management and specimen collection.
Plans to centralise the service in Hamilton were unveiled earlier this year and attracted criticism from seven of the eight surgeries. Doctors claimed the move would inconvenience patients and upset continuity of care.
Dr Shona Ewen, a GP at Burnbank Medical Centre, said the scheme was “radically ill-thought out” and likely to result in worse clinical outcomes for patients.
Following the criticism, NHS Lanarkshire announced in May that for the moment, only four of the eight Hamilton surgeries would be involved.
The board say an “options appraisal” is under way to determine the best treatment room arrangements for the other four surgeries.
Its results will be implemented next year and one option being considered is a purpose-built unit to provide services for people living in the Low Waters/Strathaven Road area.
This week divisional director of nursing for primary care, Anne Armstrong, insisted the new facility would enhance services, allow patients to see specialist treatment room staff and phlebotomists, and provide more appointment slots. However, Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse MSP Christina McKelvie said the new arrangements had been introduced with little consultation and scant regard for patients.
Central Scotland MSP Margaret Mitchell added: “Issues about access ability have been raised from the outset. Patients use Treatment Rooms which are convenient to them and close to their home.
“In some cases, patients face a 45-minute journey as the transport issue has not been resolved.”