Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero questions closure of walk-in centre

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ASHFIELD MP Gloria De Piero has written to the Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley to voice her concerns over whether officials were ‘misled’ in their decision to close Kirkby’s walk-in centre.

NHS Nottinghamshire County made a decision to close the walk-in centre, which was based at Ashfield Health Village and allowed patients to be seen for minor ailments without an appointment, early last year.

Despite a brief reprieve, Mr Lansley eventually upheld this decision and it closed in September.

But Miss De Piero has argued that the decision was based on plans to integrate the service with the Accident and Emergency department and the only issue was whether the location should be changed.

She said: “I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Health because I fear that we have all been misled by PCT bosses.

“It was my understanding that although the walk-in centre was to close in Kirkby – despite the widespread and strong vocal opposition - the people of Ashfield would still be able to access a walk-in service at King’s Mill.

“Unfortunately, the walk-in centre has not moved to King’s Mill at all. Instead an appointments-based service has opened so there is no longer a walk-in centre in Ashfield.

“At no point in any discussion with me was it debated or mentioned that we lose this service altogether. The only issue up for discussion was whether the location should be changed. I want our walk-in centre back.”

Yesterday, Dr Raian Sheikh, a local GP and Clinical Lead for Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “In NHS Nottinghamshire County PCT’s consultation document on the review of the walk-in centre, it said that they would ‘integrate the walk-in centre and A&E department’.

“This integration has been achieved by patients being able to self-present to A&E and patients with minor illnesses being looked after in Primary Care 24, which is located on the King’s Mill Hospital site.

“As Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group, we recognise the value that patients place on the ability to walk in directly to a primary care service.

“We are working with Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (who run the A&E department) and CNCS (who run Primary Care 24) to explore how this can be delivered.”

Health chiefs also said that people should always contact their GP, the out-of-hours service, their pharmacist or NHS Direct on 0845 4647 in the first instance.