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Shadow health secretary backs walk-in centre campaign

Worcester Editorial 7th May, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

SHADOW health secretary Andy Burnham has vowed to stop controversial plans to close Worcester Walk-in Centre in their tracks.

Mr Burnham made the pledge during a Q&A session at the Whitehouse Hotel in Worcester last Thursday (May 1).

Plans have been put forward by Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (WCCG) to close the walk-in centre on Farrier Street when its contract runs out in August and turn it into a GP practice.

But after Coun Joy Squires claimed the 15,000 people who use the service each year were not consulted, Mr Burnham described the plans as “fundamentally flawed”.

“It does not seem possible to close something when you have not been upfront about the proposals to the public,” he said.

“I will raise it with NHS England as I think this should be stopped in its tracks and they should take it off the table.”

Mr Burnham also revealed up to 50 walk-in centres have closed around the country, a trend he believed needed to stop, starting with the city’s own.

“It makes no sense what so ever to close walk in centres when we are still in the midst of an A&E crisis across the country,” he said.

“It is absolutely essential to have those convenient alternatives to A&E in the centre of the city, so I can’t understand why this proposal has come forward.”

Almost 800 people have already backed the Save Worcester Walk-in Centre campaign which urges health bosses to rethink the proposals.

Coun Squires, who launched the petition, added: “I find it astounding that the proposals to close this centre have been made and the decision pretty much taken.

“The walk-in centre provides a lifeline for many thousands of people so it is just incredible that the idea to close it was ever thought about in the first place.”

Speaking after the meeting, Dr Carl Ellson, chief clinical lead at NHS South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said they intended to use the money which was used to fund the ‘walk-in’ element of the centre to provide additional resources at the front door of the A&E department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

“We wish to set up a new Urgent Care Centre where patients can be treated by an experienced nurse, GP or emergency doctor, without an appointment, for minor illnesses and injuries,” he said.

“Myself and other local GP colleagues who work with the CCG believe this will be a more effective use of NHS resources and will actually help to take the pressure off our busy A&E department.”

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