Campaigners are celebrating after health bosses agreed to extend the Accrington Victoria Hospital walk-in centre and GP practice contracts until at least March 2016.
The Accrington Observer and Hyndburn council launched a campaign in 2013 to save the under-threat facilities from closure with nearly 6,000 people signing a petition.
Last year the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed to initially extend the contracts until September 2015, however at a recent governing body meeting opted for a further six-month extension.
Council leader Miles Parkinson said it was ‘essential’ to keep the facilities open to help Hyndburn residents and ease congestion problems at local hospitals.
He said: “It’s very positive for the outcome of the campaign to keep it open. We are glad they have listened to us and extended it and we will keep monitoring the situation.
“It’s important to keep it open and direct people there and to their GP instead of A&E if possible.
“If you look nationally walk-in centres are very important as they take people away from A&E departments and stop them becoming more of a major issue.
“That has been an issue at Royal Blackburn Hospital which has been under pressure.”
Coun Pam Barton, cabinet member for health and communities, said it was ‘absolutely wonderful news’.
She said: “We have all campaigned together on this and I would like to think they have listened to what we have said. We will still be carrying on the fight. We need it there, it’s as simple as that.”
Patrick McGinley, of the hospital’s Patients Participation Group (PPG), said they were still ‘very dissatisfied’ and wanted a longer five-year contract.
He said: “Staff, patients and all concerned feel the stress associated with short-term contracts.
“Accrington Victoria is a victim of its own success because people are coming to it instead of their own surgeries and can get a quicker service.
“The walk-in centre really is important as it is half-way between Burnley and Blackburn and eases their hospitals. How can anybody consider closing it? It currently costs £2.6 million but that would rise to £6.5 million if 38,000 patients had to be transferred to Blackburn A&E.”
The CCG said there is currently ‘broader work’ being undertaken around access to GP and primary care services across East Lancashire and it will be discussed at their next governing body meeting.
They said: “We are continuing to engage with patients and the public about the services they want to receive in community and primary care settings.”