A walk-in centre due to be axed at the end of next month could get a stay of execution.
The GP walk-in centre at Accrington Victoria hospital was controversially due to be closed on March 31 to be replaced with new ‘health hubs’ - but the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) may keep it open longer for an ‘extended duration of time’ while the new service is finalised.
A spokesperson told the Observer: “NHS East Lancashire CCG are currently working with GPs locally to develop in detail what the new service will look like when the walk-in centre in Hyndburn closes.
“The CCG are working with the current provider, who is involved in the planning for the new service, along with other GP organisations. Given the tight timescales, we are keen to explore whether the current provider can continue to provide the service for an extended duration of time while the new service is finalised.
“We believe that this will give us sufficient time to ensure that the new service meets the needs of the population and is thoroughly bedded in before the walk-in centre closes.”
The service sees tens of thousands of people from across Hyndburn every year and provides GP appointments and out of hours care between 8am and 8.30pm seven days a week to people unable to get an appointment with their GP.
The new ‘health hubs’ will be created in Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and Ribblesdale, which patients will access by calling their own GP practice.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said he still hoped to work with the CCG to ensure some form of walk-in service at the hospital.
He said: “I haven’t agreed and I have never agreed with the closure of the walk-in centre, but it’s not as straightforward as it appears.
“I am going to write to the CCG to ask them to review keeping the walk-in centre in some form to provide choice, quality and opportunity to see a GP out of hours because there are a large group of people who rely on that service.
“I am going to try to engage with the public to gauge the depth of feeling about this issue because I want to see if we can have an element of the walk-in centre maintained, although I accept there are high costs to operate the new systems.
“Regardless, people need to know what’s happening with the service and its closure.”