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Hyndburn MP submits walk-in centre petition to Parliament

Graham Jones told the House of Commons the people of Hyndburn have spoken

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Hyndburn MP Graham Jones presents the walk-in centre petition to Parliament

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones has submitted a 24,000-signature petition against the closure of Accrington Victoria Hospital’s GP walk-in centre to the House of Commons.

Campaigners are urging Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to provide extra funding for NHS services in East Lancashire to keep the walk-in centre, due to close next month, open.

Mr Jones told Parliament how 42,000 people used the facility over the last 12 months and that the cost of treatment would double if they went to Royal Blackburn A&E.

He told the Commons: “Many people are simply going to go to A&E at Royal Blackburn, which is one of the busiest in the country.

“To me it seems ridiculous, particularly when a patient visit to A&E is £120 cost on average and the walk-in centre is just £60.

“Madam deputy speaker the people of Accrington and Hyndburn have spoken today.

“This petition has 10,000 written signatures and 14,000 online, 24,000 in total.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones speaking about the campaign in the House of Commons

“The government must now listen to local people, show some common sense and step in and save this valuable service.

“I would like to thank particularly Chris Reid and Kimberley Whitehead for helping with this campaign and all the volunteers who have been involved.

“To the House of Commons, the petition of residents of Hyndburn declares that they are committed to defending NHS services in Hyndburn, that the walk-in centre based at Accrington Victoria Hospital is a vital community health resource which must remain open, and that other NHS services in the area are being run down.

“The petition therefore requests that House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that sufficient funding is made available to the NHS in East Lancashire to ensure that Accrington Victoria Hospital walk-in centre remains open, and that the reductions in to all other NHS services in the area are halted.”

Protesters fighting to save Accrington Victoria Hospital walk-in centre

The walk-in centre is due to close from 8pm on June 17.

Campaigners are planning to continue their fight with a protest march from Accrington Victoria to Royal Blackburn Hospital later this month.

A provisional date has been set for Saturday, May 26 at 10am, and will last around two hours.

Observer comment

THE numbers for Accrington Victoria walk-in centre speak for themselves.

Around 24,000 people made it clear they oppose plans to close this vital local facility.

Figures from 2016 show around 44,000 people were using the hospital a year - more than 120 a day. But this is not just about numbers - it is about people.

To take this much-used facility away from people is madness.

It has now received six stays of execution but needs to be saved permanently.

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Hyndburn often finds itself at the thin end of the wedge when it comes to cuts, and the Observer stands squarely with our readers when we say: Hands off our walk-in centre.