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Walk-in centre hours will reduce

Worcester Editorial 23rd Jul, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

THE GROUP behind the decision to close the city’s walk-in centre has come under further criticism despite extending its contract for another three months.

As we reported last week, 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.

The walk-in element of the centre was expected to close next month, but South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has agreed to keep it open until the end of October while it makes alternative arrangements for students and homeless people who use the service.

However, Coun Joy Squires, who set up the Save Worcester Walk-in Centre, which generated more than 1,000 supporters, has spoken of her surprise and disappointment at the new opening hours.

The walk-in centre had been running from 8am until 8pm seven days a week, but from next month the practice will close at 6.30pm. It will also only stay open until midday on Saturdays, while the clinic will be shut all day on Sundays, which Coun Squires believed would be a big inconvenience to users.

“The new opening hours were a surprise because when we were told there was going to be a three month extension to the contract the assumption was that it would carry on as before,” she said.

“Certainly, most people I speak to still think it is open seven days a week. But it is now operating on very restricted hours, which is disappointing.

“It really is going to be a problem for everyone, particularly for the more vulnerable groups.”

In a letter to Coun Squires, Dr Carl Ellison, chief clinical officer, praised her efforts and revealed plans to commission a new outreach service in Worcester for homeless people. He also said they would be in discussions with the University of Worcester to review primary care needs for students.

Dr Ellison added: “During the public engagement exercise the CCG heard how important the ‘walk-in’ service was to the local homeless population, who often struggled to access GP services.

“To ensure that effective services remain in place for this group the CCG has been working closely with local homeless charities and NHS England to develop a new service in Worcester which will provide a wide range of services for homeless people.

“We’re also aware of the importance of the service to students, and will be considering appropriate arrangements. Additionally we are in discussions with the university where we will jointly work with NHS England to review primary care needs for the student population in the city.”

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