A Saffron Walden grandmother has criticised the lack of access to out-of-hours health services after struggling to find a doctor for her eight-month-old grandson.

Jo Kerchiss had two of her grandchildren staying with her in the week of January 17.

When her baby grandson became unwell, Jo was unable to get a doctor on the phone and rang 111, who asked if there was a late night clinic in Saffron Walden.

After finding out there was no clinic, Jo was told to take her grandson to Chelmsford.

Jo said: "It was -5 and the roads were very icy and obviously potentially very dangerous, and quite ridiculous to be driving that distance with a baby that was very unwell.

"We were told eventually the only other option was a late night clinic in Great Dunmow that would have the medication required."

Jo's grandson was sick after receiving the wrong antibiotic, and after receiving the correct antibiotic he got a rash and was taken to A&E at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

"My grandson was diagnosed with bronchitis - a very serious condition that is a pre curser to pneumonia," Jo said.

"Why is this situation happening in Saffron Walden and apparently acceptable?

"We used to have doctors that were available for late night emergencies."

Uttlesford Liberal Democrats have also raised concerns about the lack of funding for GP practices in West Essex, which they say has been slashed by £8 per patient since 2019.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Smita Rajesh at Saffron Walden Community HospitalSmita Rajesh at Saffron Walden Community Hospital (Image: North West Essex Liberal Democrats)

North West Essex Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Smita Rajesh said: "From my discussions on the doorsteps in Saffron Walden it is clear that families and pensioners in West Essex are currently struggling to see their GP despite being in need of medical advice.

"It is leaving people waiting in pain or simply anxious about not getting the care they need."

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board said: "We are sorry to hear about this family’s experience of local NHS services.

"Our priority is to ensure our patients receive the right care, at the right time and we work to make sure there is adequate provision of healthcare services in all areas.

"All patients across Hertfordshire and west Essex can ask to see a GP outside of normal working hours through extended access hours appointments which we commission general practices to provide.

"This means patients can make early evening and weekend appointments with a doctor or nurse through their GP practice.

"Outside of these extended hours appointments the ICB commissions out-of-hours services for patients who need urgent help including later in the evenings and late at night where they must see a GP immediately.

"The current out-of-hours GP service for the Uttlesford area is based in Great Dunmow.


"Doctors working out of the late night out-of-hours clinic support patients across the whole of Uttlesford, including Saffron Walden.

"In west Essex there are two other out of hours GP services based in Harlow and Epping.

"Appointments for out of hours services are made by NHS111 after a triage process by the call operator. They are not walk-in services."