Proposed Walk-In Centre Closure: Opposition Mounts
By Emma Harwood
A campaign to prevent the closure of the Station Plaza walk-in health centre is building momentum as the cash-strapped Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced it will be ‘revisiting its options’ in the face of growing public opposition.
Hastings Borough Council leader and Labour candidate Peter Chowney has written to the CCG concerning the planned closure, which he blames on Tory government austerity measures.
Meanwhile both he and Conservative MP Amber Rudd are encouraging residents to sign one of a number of online and paper petitions against the move. Labour’s petition, started on Change.org, had gained over 2500 signatures by the beginning of this week.
The CCG, which was recently put into special financial measures and needs to find savings of £18million, announced in March it wants to move the walk-in centre –where patients are able to see a GP without an appointment, or being registered- to the Conquest Hospital on the Ridge.
Critics say the move would make it difficult for patients to reach and put extra pressure on the hospital’s already overstretched A and E department.
Moreover, moving the centre would have a far-reaching impact on foreign language students who rely on the facility, as well as those unable to register with doctors due to a GP shortage in the town, Mr. Chowney added.
The plans were put on hold over the summer but are set to be discussed by the CCG at its meeting later this month.
“Moving it to the Conquest Hospital isn’t a realistic option.” he said.
“Our local NHS is facing big cuts because of government austerity policies, as are all public services. This closure must not take place. Hastings residents deserve decent healthcare, not more cuts.”
Hastings and Rother CCG said it would be ‘revisiting all its options’ in the face of feedback received so far.
It claims the proposed move was announced due to the need to provide an Urgent Treatment Centre open up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
The public meeting is on 21 September and is expected to take place at the Sussex Coast College at 5 pm. Amanda Philpott, the Chief Officer of Hastings and Rother CCG will answer residents’ questions about the proposals.
“No decisions have been made around the future of Hastings Walk-in Centre and should any changes be proposed there would be a formal consultation to ensure everyone’s voice can be heard.” she said.
It will remain open as usual everyday from 8am-8pm.
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