This week providers announced Lincolnshire’s only NHS walk-in-centre was in line for closure.
Thousands have since aired their objections and concerns both on social media and a rapidly growing petition, as well as responding to the official eight week patients’ survey.
The big question now is, will Lincolnshire West CCG’s public consultation exercise make a difference?
The centre costs £1 million a year to run, from a budget of over £300 million, and saw around 34,000 patients in the last financial year.
Patients are currently able to walk in without an appointment between the hours of 8am and 8pm seven days a week.
The facility is a nurse-led service with 15 staff and offers advice, treatment and prescriptions for minor illnesses and injuries, health advice and information.
Proposals announced by the CCG on Monday, June 12 indicate that the service would be replaced with extended opening hours at local GPs, enhancements to the NHS 111 service and “support for people to self-manage their health conditions”.
The CCG is also guaranteeing same day access to GPs for children and urgent cases “where clinically appropriate”, and will encourage patients to utilise pharmacies.
The consultation will run for eight weeks from Monday, June 12 until Sunday, August 6 with people wishing to have their thoughts heard able to do so in the following ways:
Three drop-in events at Abbey Access Training Centre, Monks Road, Lincoln, LN2 5HU. They will be held on Tuesday, June 27 (11am-1pm), Wednesday, June 28 (3pm-5pm) and Thursday, June 29 (7pm-9pm).
You can also email [email protected] or write to NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, Cross O’Cliff, Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln, LN4 2HN.
Below is a run down of the response so far:
Within hours of the consultation announcement, campaigners launched a petition asking the CCG to save the centre from closure. The online petition has now gained around 4,000 signatures.
Many speaking out in opposition have cited concerns that the move would create added pressure on local GP practices and the Lincoln Accident and Emergency department.
Newly elected Member of Parliament for Lincoln Karen Lee stated that the plans are “all about saving money” at the beginning of the week, calling for an urgent meeting with the CCG and stakeholders.
Following her meeting on Friday, June 16, Karen told The Lincolnite she has been assured by the CCG that all of the concerns that had been raised were being considered in the consultation process.
She added that she would be holding ongoing meetings to ensure that patients needs are met.
Closure “the right thing to do”
Health bosses at Lincolnshire West CCG told The Lincolnite in a video interview following the announcement that the proposals were “not about saving money”, and that there was no evidence the move would put added pressure on GPs and A&E.
Sunil Hindocha, Chief Clinical Officer for Lincolnshire West CCG and Sarah-Jane Mills, Chief Operating Officer at Lincolnshire West CCG spoke to The Lincolnite in a video interview on Wednesday, June 14.
When challenged over patients’ ability to book GP appointments, the health bosses said there is capacity available in the county, with some surgeries also offering their own walk-in services.
Sunil, who previously spoke out about a shortage of trained GPs, said the CCG had recently recruited 27 international members of staff. He added, “the impact [of the closure] would result in about two or three more appointments per surgery in the city per day.”
The CCG was also challenged by a whistleblower who worked at the walk-in-centre. The anonymous source told reporters that the decision to close the centre had already been made and that its replacement had been arranged in the form of a £1 million a year GP streaming service at Lincoln A&E.
CCG bosses responded to say this was incorrect, and that while a streaming service was being launched by United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust at Lincoln and Boston, it was completely separate to the plans.