Putnoe Walk-In Centre may close after all, after health bosses announced a new consultation which has been branded both a “u-turn” and a “disgrace”.
Bedfordshire Clinical Commssioning Group, which oversees healthcare across the area, is launching a formal public consultation on its plans to close the facility.
This would mean moving services to a new Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) based at Bedford Hospital, which bosses say would provide medical tests and longer opening hours.
But Cllr Jade Uko believes the service to be too far from people living in north Bedford and said it was time to send health bosses a message.
She said: “The CCG want to bury this consultation in the school holidays in the hope that people will not notice their plans.
“The public has already spoken, but due to the CCG’s backsliding they now need to speak out again.
“Thousands of patients use the walk-in centre every year providing convenient access to services and reducing pressure on over-stretched GPs.
“We urge everyone to complete the consultation and send the CCG a powerful message.”
The walk-in centre had originally been due to close in March before CCG bosses bowed to public pressure - including a public petition – and extended its contract to the end of September.
That contract may be extended again until May 2019 – but only with weekday opening hours slashed from 8am-6.30pm to 8am-2pm.
Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson called for both facilities to remain open.
He said: “The walk-in centre is a popular and extremely well-used service, and it simply must not be closed.
“With Bedford Hospital A&E under massive pressure and the current walk-in centre seeing 35,000 patients a year, we need both a continuing walk–in service and the new urgent treatment centre at the hospital.
“The closure of the walk-in centre would be a clear reduction in services for local people, and I strongly encourage everyone to take part in the consultation and have their say.”
Sarah Thompson, Bedfordshire CCG’s accountable officer said: “National guidance shows that patients access the best care when they can be seen by a clinician who has access to simple tests, and Bedford Hospital south wing has been identified as the best site for the new UTC which will be staffed by hospital clinicians.
“We are aware of the concerns that some local residents have about the change and we would like to hear from as many people as possible about what they think of our plans.
“Over the next few weeks we will be talking to many local groups and organisations, particularly in the Putnoe area so that we can hear from the people who will be most affected by the changes.”
The consultation runs until midnight August 19. Take part at www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk/Putnoewic
Information will also be available from GP surgeries and places such as libraries, or request a copy of the consultation document and questionnaire from: email@example.com