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Walk-in centre petition set for House of Commons hearing this week

Campaigners are also planning a protest march against the closure

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(l-r) Chris Reid, Grham Jones MP and Kimberley Whitehead with the 24,000 strong petition against the closure of Accrington Victoria Walk-in centre.

A petition with 24,000 signatures against the closure of Accrington Victoria Hospital’s GP walk-in centre is being submitted to Parliament this week.

Campaigners are hoping the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt will hear their arguments against the closure, and are also planning to continue their fight with a protest march from Accrington Victoria to Royal Blackburn Hospital later this month.

Discussions with police are underway, but a provisional date for the march has been set for Saturday, May 26 at 10am.

The aim of the march, which will last around two hours, is to unite supporters of the campaign and NHS staff from across the East Lancashire Trust.

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Campaigners, led by Kimberley Whitehead and Chris Read, gave the petition to Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, who was due to formally handed it over to the Department of Health and Social Care on Tuesday, May 1.

He is expected to formally introduce the campaign in a session of the House of Commons on Wednesday, May 2.

Kimberley said: “It’s the largest petition I know for a walk-in centre. I hope we receive a positive response.

"We’re looking to split the march into a 10k and a 5k route. We would encourage people to join the march at any point along the way.

"We’re also trying to get supporters from Blackburn and Clitheroe.”

Kimberley said she has had no further updates from the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, who have made the decision to close the walk-in centre from 8pm on June 17.

She added that the sudden closure of Abbey Surgery in Accrington at the end of last week will only increase pressure on already-stretched GP surgeries.

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She said: “We’re currently discussing writing to the CCG to give them a final statement about the effect of the closure. Especially since losing two GP surgeries recently. It can only add more strain.

“There’s added pressure on other services as a result - with seven weeks until the closure of the walk-in centre, is it the right time?

"They should, at the very least, delay the closure, but they won’t.”

Petition to save the Accrington Victoria Hospital walk-in centre from closure

In a post on Facebook, the Save Accrington Walk-in Centre campaigners thanked their supporters for their help so far.

The post read: “We would like to thank everyone who signed the petition and we hope that you will all get involved in the next stage of our campaign, with more details to follow.

“Thanks once again for backing the campaign. The support we have received has been overwhelming.”

Walk-in centre petition 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.

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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.

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