Secretary of State seals fate of Kirkby walk-in centre

THE fate of the NHS walk-in centre at Kirkby has been sealed after the Health Secretary approved its closure.

The facility at Ashfield Health Village is set for the axe following Andrew Lansley’s decision to allow NHS Nottinghamshire County to move walk-in services to King’s Mill Hospital’s emergency department.

Kirkby campaigner Jim Aspinall, who collected signatures from more than 3,000 residents in favour of maintaining the service, said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ with the decision, which came after Mr Lansley sought advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

The Labour Party activist said: “This is very bad news for the people of Ashfield. We know they are planning to integrate this service with an already over-stretched department at King’s Mill.

“There are health implications because it is very convenient to drop into the centre, maybe people will not be so inclined to get themselves treated now,” he said.

“I expected the panel to listen to the views of all parties - not just those of the PCT (NHS Nottinghamshire County).

“More than 3,000 people signed a petition to keep this centre open, and their views have been ridden over roughshod.”

And Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said she was ‘absolutely devastated’ with the decision.

“I have put pressure on everyone to keep this NHS Walk-in Centre open and I took this issue to the highest level.

“I am sorry that those who have made this decision have ignored the wishes of the people of Ashfield by closing such an important centre.”

The decision had gone before Mr Lansley after Nottinghamshire County Council referred it to him over concerns that closure of the service was not in the public interest.

But a spokesman for the Department of Health said Mr Lansley was confident the move was in the best interests of patients and the local health service.

“It is vital for patients that changes to NHS services must focus on improving patient outcomes,” the spokesman said.

Deborah Jaines, chief operating officer for High Point Health NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, represents the group tasked with supporting the move of the walk-in services to King’s Mill.

“We now want to work with the people who live in and around the area to build confidence in the excellent facilities available, including same day GP appointments for urgent care,” she said.

“This includes 2,000 additional places for people to register with their GPs and ensure more effective longer term care for those who need it.

“We will continue to address concerns and learn from previous experiences.”

A spokesman for NHS Nottinghamshire County said they were working through recommendations made by the IRP and they would continue to engage directly with people to deliver the changes.

“Our primary aim is the same, to ensure the health and well being of all and we believe that the recommendations will see more people receiving a high quality of care,” the spokesman said.

Now Mr Aspinall says campaigners will do whatever they can to fight for health services in Ashfield.

“We will mobilise whoever we can - representatives of this campaign, the wider Labour movement and the trade unions to fight this.”