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Plans to close walk-in centre criticised

Worcester Editorial 9th Apr, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

A CITY councillor has criticised health chiefs for keeping people in the dark over their proposals to close a walk-in centre in Worcester.

South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (SWCCG) are planning to shut Worcester Walk-In Centre when its contract expires in August and turn it into a GP surgery in a bid to respond to the increasing demand for urgent care.

However, Coun Joy Squires, councillor for the Arboretum, claimed the SWCCG had failed to contact the 15,000 non-registered patients who use the centre on Farrier Street to discuss the reasons behind the move.

Coun Squires has brought forward a motion to Worcester City Council’s scrutiny committee meeting as she attempts to pursue health bosses to carry out a further review.

“Clearly the closure of the walk-in centre will have a big impact on a large number of people,” she said. “Thousands of people use the centre each year.

“For some it is because they don’t have a home address add can’t register with a GP, while others still use the walk-in centre because they can’t get an appointment with a GP.

“Certainly when I looked to see the availability of appointments at various practices nobody seems to be open in the evenings and they certainly don’t offer them at the weekend, so I can see why an open access walk-in centre would  be much more convenient for many people.”

Coun Squires said she had heard from some users of the walk-in centre who said they had not been contacted by the CCG to explain the closure, which she hopes will be uncovered at tonight’s (Wednesday) scrutiny meeting.

“It is clearly a very successful service so to close it seems odd given that there are no alternative being proposed and on the face of it it looks like thousands of people are going to lose a service that they value greatly,” she added.

“I want an open and transparent discussion as to why these proposals are being put forward.”

Dr Carl Ellison, Chief Clinical Officer for NHS South Worcestershire CCG, said: “We believe the walk in service in particular will no longer be required with the other improvements we wish to put in place.

“However, as part of these plans NHS England plan that the site would continue to operate as a GP practice so any patients who are currently registered there will continue to be able to access their primary care services, and new patients will still be able to register there if they wish to do so.

“We’re very keen for residents to have their say on our plans, and have received more than 350 individual responses as part of this exercise.

“By listening to what our patients tell us we are able to more closely shape these plans to local needs and ensure that we provide the best range of local urgent care services.”

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