ASHFIELD MP Gloria De Piero has vowed to write to the Health Secretary as the row over the closure of the NHS walk-in centre in Kirkby continues to rumble on.
Members of Nottinghamshire County Council’s social care and health standing committee met on Monday morning to discuss the impact of the closure of the centre, which was at Ashfield Health Village and treated patients for minor ailments without the need for an appointment.
In March last year, NHS Nottinghamshire County agreed to close the facility at Kirkby, as well as a similar one in Stapleford - and instead integrate the services at King’s Mill Hospital’s emergency department.
The walk-in centre was granted a brief reprieve after the county council’s overview and scrutiny committee, which looks at major decisions, referred the matter to the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley because councillors were not convinced closure was in the interests of patients.
But Mr Lansley upheld NHS Nottinghamshire County’s decision and the centre finally closed to patients in September.
At Monday’s meeting, Deborah Jaines, who is chief operating officer for High Point Health Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group, said GP practices in Ashfield were offering longer clinics and more same day appointments to accommodate patient demand.
She also said that the number of people going to King’s Mill’s accident and emergency department had remained ‘broadly static’ suggesting that people had not been going there as a result of the closure of the walk-in centre.
During the debate, committee members questioned whether patients now had to make an appointment to be seen for minor complaints at King’s Mill - and whether councillors had been misled over whether the facility had been moved or closed.
Co Coun Fiona Asbury, who represents Sutton West, said: “I can see why it says it has closed because it has closed at Kirkby - but is there a walk-in centre at King’s Mill?”
Speaking after the meeting, Miss De Piero said: “Ashfield has lost its walk-in centre despite strong and vocal opposition from the local community.
“I don’t believe local health bosses have been straight with the people of Ashfield and I’m now going to write to the Health Secretary to find out why we have lost this much loved service.
“I’d like to put on record my thanks to all the mums who put their concerns about the loss of the service down in writing. Their comments were invaluable in helping me to put across the case for our walk-in centre.”
Jim Aspinall, who led the campaign to halt the closure of the walk-in centre, said he had experienced problems when he tried to access primary care services at King’s Mill.
“I was told to go away and make an appointment, wait until I could see my GP or go to A and E,” he said.
A spokesman from NHS Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County said: “Patient satisfaction surveys, other patient insight such as the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and the complaints service, have shown that primary care has been successful in mobilising to meet patient need in the vast majority of cases.
“In those GP surgeries where there are exceptions, we will work with them to improve patient satisfaction and work with patients to advertise practices where good access times are available. There remains a good range of alternative GP providers in both communities.”
For advice on choosing the right service, contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0800 028 3693.