A patient group say they are ‘horrified’ after it was confirmed a GP walk-in centre used by tens of thousands of residents will close next March.
The centre, at Accrington Victoria Hospital, which provides a GP service from 8am to 8.30pm seven days a week to people unable to get an appointment with their GP, will shut its doors on March 31, 2017.
Instead, ‘health hubs’ will be created in Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and Ribblesdale, which patients can access by calling their own GP practice.
But Russ McLean, from the Pennine and Lancashire Patient Voices Group, has hit out at the decision by East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Mr McLean, a non-executive director of the company providing the walk-in centre, said: “I’m appalled and horrified that the CCG seem to have rail-roaded this through.
“They had 680 responses in their consultation out of Hyndburn’s population of 80,000 - less than one per cent.
“I don’t think the hub will work as they won’t have the staff. Last year 42,000 people used the walk-in centre. I’m fearful for patients’ safety.”
A spokesperson from East Lancashire CCG said the CCG carried out a 12-week consultation earlier in the year, adding: “We reached nearly 20,000 people on social media and distributed 13,000 paper questionnaires to 58 GP practices.
“The CCG is aware of concern about the change and is working with local GPs to ensure that the service meets patients’ needs.”
They say the health hubs will provide extended access to GP services from 8am to 8pm every day, with additional children’s appointments also provided and care navigators available to help patients. The new service will run alongside the walk in Centre for a limited period.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: “Feelings will be mixed and I believe it is a risk. Get it wrong and people will simply go to an overburdened A&E.”
But one group which provides a public voice on health and social care is backing the changes.
Mike Wedgeworth, chairman of Healthwatch Lancashire, said: “I can understand the mixed feelings many will have about closing the walk-in centre but I believe a new health hub in Hyndburn will be much better for people.”