THE CITY’S walk-in health centre will close next month despite hundreds of people backing a campaign to keep it open.
The Farrier Street clinic, which deals with about 15,000 patients a year, will turn into a GP practice as part of plans to reorganise local NHS services.
More than 1,000 people signed a petition calling on health chiefs to re-think their proposals to close Worcester Walk-in Centre, while Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has also put his weight behind the campaign.
But at a meeting last Thursday (July 10), South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed to go ahead with the closure of the clinic which will be replaced by an urgent care centre at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
However, the decision has angered Coun Joy Squires, who set up the Save Worcester Walk in Centre campaign, as she believes it will put further pressure A&E services.
“I still don’t understand why anyone wants to close such a popular, well used and effective health service,” she said.
“Worcester Walk-In Centre caters for thousands of people who can’t get appointments with their own GP, can’t easily take time off work to see a doctor or who are trying to avoid going to A&E.
“Inevitably many more people will end up at A&E putting even more pressure on an already over-stretched emergency service. Closing the Walk-In Centre is the wrong decision.”
The walk-in service was originally opened in 2009 for patients with minor ailments who couldn’t access their own GP to help cut waiting times at A&E.
However, due to the continued growth of the GP practice’s own registered list, Dr Anthony Kelly, chair of NHS South Worcestershire CCG said it has become increasingly difficult for patients to access ‘walk-in’ services as they were booked by patients already registered at the practice.
He said its closure meant resources would now be moved to a new urgent care centre where patients would be treated by experienced nurses, GPs or emergency doctors without appointments for minor injuries and illnesses.
“We recognise the walk-in centre is popular with patients, but a patient’s own GP Practice is the right first place of contact for most conditions,” Dr Kelly added.
“GPs know their patients’ medical history, have access to their medical records, and play a vital role in improving the health of their local populations.
“We recognise that some patients have experienced difficulties in accessing their own GP and we are working hard with practices and NHS England to ensure that all 295,000 patients in South Worcestershire can get a GP appointment when they need one.”