Crawley politicians share views about decision to close the town’s Urgent Treatment Centre during the night

Crawley politicians have shared their views about the decision to close the town’s Urgent Treatment Centre during the night.
Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre. Image: GoogleMapsCrawley Urgent Treatment Centre. Image: GoogleMaps
Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre. Image: GoogleMaps

The Centre, at Crawley Hospital, is usually open 24/7 but the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust announced last week that a ‘temporary change’ would see it open from 7.30am and close from 10pm from May 20.

Michael Jones, leader of Crawley Borough Council, and Peter Lamb, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate, said they ‘strongly condemn the political decisions’ that led to the change.

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In a joint statement, they said: “The under-funding and mismanagement of the NHS under the Conservatives has resulted in many residents being unable to access GP care or dentistry when they need it, some of the longest waiting times in the country for treatments for conditions such as cancer, and with A&E waiting times over six times the NHS’s national target.

“This decision will only make these problems worse and force more patients to seek treatment out of town at greater cost to both themselves and the NHS.

“Fourteen years on from winning the constituency with a promise that they would build a new hospital for Crawley, the Conservatives are instead leaving the town with the worst health services in its history.”

The latest figures from NHS England, detailing A&E admissions across Sussex, show that, in March, 60.5 per cent of the 35,515 patients taken to the various A&E departments with major issues were seen, transferred or discharged in four hours or less.

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Some 26,792 people went to the county’s minor injury units, with 97.7 per cent seen in four hours or less.

But 3,104 patients spent more than four hours waiting to be admitted to hospital and 1,141 waited 12 hours or more.

Duncan Crow, leader of Crawley’s Conservative Group, said: “When the last Labour government closed A&E at Crawley Hospital, I recall Crawley’s Labour MP Laura Moffatt telling us how the 24-hour Urgent Treatment Centre would be a good replacement and that there would also be a direct shuttle bus from Crawley to East Surrey Hospital at Redhill.

“These Labour promises now feel very hollow as first they took away the shuttle bus and now the Urgent Treatment Centre will no longer be 24 hours.

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“The NHS is receiving record levels of funding, so I find this reduction in service concerning.

“I hope to see evidence in due course, of the claim that waiting times during daytime will be reduced as a result of this change.”

A statement from the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust said the majority of patients attended Crawley’s Urgent Treatment Centre between 7.30am and 10pm, with an average of two per hour using the service overnight.

They added that the decision for the temporary change had been made ‘to ensure that safe staffing levels can continue to be maintained’ when the Centre was most in use.

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The statement added: “Whilst arrangements have been in place to utilise temporary staffing, this is not providing adequate cover and is not sustainable.

“Putting in place this pilot arrangement will allow us to reallocate overnight staff into the daytime when the unit sees the most patients.

“It will mean that we have more staff available when patients need the service most as we consider how we can meet the needs of the local community for the longer term.”