Campaigners are calling on NHS bosses to scrap plans to close Accrington Victoria walk in centre, altogether after it was given a sixth stay of execution.
The walk-in centre, which opened in 2009, was due to close at the end of this month.
It will now remain open until June 16 this year, East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group [CCG] confirmed.
Kimberley Whitehead, the campaign’s figurehead, welcomed the extension, but only insofar as it means the centre, based at the Accrington Victoria Hospital, will remain open for longer.
She said: “What I don’t welcome is that it’s the sixth stay of execution now - it’s completely unacceptable. What the hell is going on?
“We will continue with our handover of the petition and also continue the quest to retain this vital service. If they’re [the CCG] not sure, they shouldn’t be committing to the closure.”
The closure of the walk-in centre, originally earmarked for October 2015, has now been delayed SIX times.
Chris Reid, chairman of the Great Harwood Patients’ Participation group, said bosses had misjudged the public mood after around 23,000 people backed a petition to save the centre.
He said: “We welcome the delay in the closure of the GP walk-in centre.
“The CCG realise they have underestimated the need for the service and the anger it has caused.
“We will fight the CCG tooth and nail on this issue. The CCG should save a lot of stress all round and continue to fund a much used and needed service.”
In a statement the CCG said the 11-week extension of the contract would ‘assist a smooth transition to a new system of extended GP access in the area, with a gradual reduction in opening hours of the health access centre service.’
Mark Youlton, CCG accountable officer, said: “We can now confirm that the Accrington Health Access Centre will remain open until June 16.
“Other services provided in Accrington Victoria Community Hospital including the Minor Injuries Unit, the X-ray department or any other in-patient or out-patient services are not affected.
“The centre was originally established to provide additional access to health care for conditions that people would normally see their GP for.
“As such it was set up as a form of extended GP access and not as a service for urgent or emergency conditions.
“In December we introduced a new model of extended GP access in Hyndburn, which means that patients will have improved access to local GP services both on weekday evenings and over the weekend.”
No let-up in fight to save facility
The numbers for Accrington Victoria walk-in centre speak for themselves.
Around 23,000 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.