A final decision over the future of the Accrington Victoria Hospital walk-in centre has been deferred to next year.
Health bosses at East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said they needed more information on available options before deciding the fate of the under-threat facility which is used by 34,000 people each year.
However, they have ruled out letting the walk-in centre close completely withoutat least finding a replacement service.
Other options also rejected include keeping the service in its current format, and decommissioning the service while extending the contract at the minor injuries unit to include minor illnesses.
The CCG said they need to find £33m in cuts over the next three years and the walk-in centre is projected to cost £2.2m next year - £1.4m over its budget.
Dr Diane van Ruitenbeek, chair of the CCG, told a governing body board meeting earlier today that they could also consider other options put forward in a recent report by healthcare regulator Monitor.
She said: “We need further work for the options that remain on the table and to look at other options.
“We don't have an infinite amount of time to do this and that decision needs to be made around February or March next year and no later.
“We are not deferring it because we can't decide, but because we need more information.”
Dr Mike Irons, chief clinical officer at the CCG, told the meeting they
didn't have 'sufficient information' to make an informed decision this week.
He said: “I don't think the options have been worked through properly.
“There are two options I feel we can discount. The obvious one is to just let it expire without any replacement, which I don't believe that's a viable option.
“The other option, which I don't believe in, is the option to tender the service on the current contract.
“It's open ended, very expensive and not value for money.”
The remaining three options on the table for the CCG to consider include:
- Tendering the service as a fixed price contract rather than a fee per attendance which currently stands at £55.
- Keeping the centre open with opening times and access limited to evenings
and weekends outside GP core contract times and funded at a fixed price.
- Commissioning groups or individual practices working together to provide
extended hours to offer guaranteed extra access and funded at a fixed price.
Stephen Dean, of patients representative group Healthwatch, said the CCG needed to listen to thepeople of Hyndburn and 'respond in a positive way'.
Hyndburn GP Dr Fiona Lord said patients in the borough 'really want and expressed a need' for the walk-in centre, particular those with language barrier problems and learning difficulties.