The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants to improve urgent care i.e. health problems needing a response within 24 hours (rather than life-threatening emergencies). Most of this need relates to minor illness, rather than minor injuries, and is provided in primary care, i.e. by a doctor, nurse or pharmacist based in your local General Practice. As appointments with overstretched GPs are hard to get, people turn to hospital services which were intended for accidents (injuries) and emergencies. The Walk-in Centre on Broad Lane in the city centre was supposed to prevent this by providing GP-style urgent care for minor illness.
As a Councillor for City ward, I am worried about closing the Walk-in Centre. It sees 60,000 patients a year, many of whom live in or near the city centre. Under the CCG’s proposals, rather than going straight to the Walk-in Centre, people will be encouraged to phone 111 for an urgent appointment with their GP. GP surgeries will be clustered into “Neighbourhoods” so that if your own GP is too busy, you will be offered an appointment in a linked practice. There are only two small practices in the city centre: Devonshire Green and the Clover City Practice at Mulberry Street. If they can’t cope, people will have to travel to Sharrow, Walkley or Crookes. Some residents of Neepsend and Kelham Island are registered with GPs in Burngreave. That Neighbourhood runs all the way north to Shiregreen! The proposed new Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at the Northern General with its poor public transport and inadequate, expensive parking will be the only other option.
When the Walk-in Centre was proposed in 2009, the Green Party argued that the money would be better spent on boosting GP surgeries which are local and know their patients. The CCG now say they want people to go to their GP for urgent care, but will spend all the money from closing the Walk-in Centre on the UTC at the NGH. This is another nail in the coffin for personalised, family care.
Cllr Douglas Johnson
City Ward Green Party