Cornwall

Care centre secures West Cornwall hospital's future

A pilot scheme where hospital doctors and GPs deliver urgent care together has helped reduce ambulance transfers to the Royal Cornwall Hospital by 63%.

The urgent care centre at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance is now permanent and will be used as a model for a new scheme in East Cornwall.

It brought together the casualty service and a new acute GP clinic.

It replaced the out-dated casualty department which had faced an uncertain future, NHS bosses said.

Dr Mathew Boulter, the clinical lead at the centre, said: "We engaged with the public from day one and said let's work on this together.

"You sit round a table and work together. It's been hugely refreshing, productive and enjoyable."

In 2007, about 20,000 people protested when the Penzance hospital was threatened with closure.

Before the launch of the care centre, patient numbers at the hospital had been falling.

In the last year ambulance traffic at West Cornwall had almost doubled, according to Dr Boulter.

Louise Silver, the sister is charge of the centre, said: "On my first day at the hospital in 1996 the headlines were West Cornwall Hospital might close.

"I can now see myself working at the hospital for a long time."

Later this month Dr Boulter will attend a meeting to discuss setting up an urgent care centre in the east of the county.

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