A consultation which formed the basis of the decision to close Accrington’s walk-in centre was backed by just 400 people from Hyndburn, we can reveal.

The 12-week consultation, conducted by East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), found majority support for its alternative primary healthcare system which would replace the GP walk-in centre at Accrington Victoria Hospital.

The CCG has defended the survey, after MP Graham Jones claimed it was flawed and did not represent public opinion.

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The full consultation results have been obtained by the Observer by a Freedom of Information Act request.

The report summary acknowledged that while there was positivity about the proposals in the responses, there was praise for the existing walk-in centre and ‘strong views’ that it should remain open.

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To the question ‘do you agree with their model of primary care?’ there were 658 responses from Hyndburn residents, of which 27 per cent opposed, and nine per cent were undecided. Under 400 borough residents were in support.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, who last week submitted a 24,000-signature petition against the closure to the House of Commons, criticised the CCG for the way in which they presented the consultation results.

He said: “I think it was a flawed consultation, personally. I’ve never met anyone who responded or contributed towards it.

“The CCG have misrepresented the feelings and views of local residents on the issue of Accrington walk-in centre.”

Mr Jones also added that campaigners against the closure - due to take place on June 17 - could hold their own consultation to gauge the latest public opinion.

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The Observer reported in 2016 how the CCG’s consultation had reached nearly 20,000 people on social media and distributed 13,000 paper questionnaires to 58 GP practices in East Lancashire.

Consultation responses were sought between April and July 2016.

In response to the criticisms, an East Lancashire CCG spokesperson said: “The CCG worked hard to ensure that the consultation complied with national engagement criteria. An independent research company, Infusion Research, was contracted to evaluate the public questionnaire, and their evaluation report concluded that significant efforts were made to ensure this.

“We received 2,129 responses; over a third of these were from Hyndburn residents and the majority supported the proposals.”

Numbers speak for themselves

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.

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.