PATIENTS have hit out at plans to reduce the opening hours of a busy surgery in Colchester.

Changes at the North Colchester Health Care Centre mean from the beginning of October the centre’s surgery will be rebranded Turner Road Surgery under new provider Creffield Medical Group.

Patients have already criticised the move, which will see the Turner Road Surgery’s opening hours significantly reduced.

The existing surgery is open between 7.15am and 8.30pm every weekday and between 10am and 4pm at weekends whereas Turner Road Surgery will open between 8am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

Patient Marilyn Ramsey said: “We originally changed to the surgery because it had longer opening hours.

“This is going to end with more people going to A&E or the urgent treatment centre.

“It is counter-productive and people have been commenting on social media up in arms about it.

“We are being told by the Government they want to increase surgeries hours to take pressure off A&E but this is doing the exact opposite.”

A spokesman for the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said the new surgery’s opening hours were in line with others across north Essex.

He said: “The existing opening hours of the North Colchester Healthcare Centre reflected the accessibility of the walk-in centre premises, as this was an integrated service.”

The walk-in centre will close on Monday, September 30 as it is being replaced with an Urgent Treatment Centre at Colchester Hospital.

Urgent treatment centres treat minor injuries like scrapes and burns, are GP-led, open at least 12 hours a day, every day, and offer appointments that can be booked through 111 or through a GP referral.

After October 1, patients who think they need to go to A&E will have to be assessed at the new centre first, before being signposted for appropriate treatment.

The spokesman said: “We’ve brought all urgent care together, listening to the public feedback as part of our big conversations about urgent healthcare services.

“In addition, GP practices are working together to offer patients improved access to appointments in north east Essex.

“This means there is the opportunity to see a GP, practice nurse or other health professional as appropriate at a broader range of convenient times.”

“Patients can now book appointments to see a GP, practice nurse or other health professional who can help with illness or injury in the evenings or at the weekend, with a range of slots available, by contacting their practice. There are also more ways that patients can get advice from a GP or practice nurse, including over the telephone and online.

“Including Extended Access within the Urgent Treatment Service – allowing 111 to refer patients to an Extended Access appointment - supports the ongoing development and integration of primary, community and urgent care services in north east Essex, ensuring that patients are directed to the right care, first time at available services which are closest to home.”

More information on extended access can be found here.