A public consultation into closing health facilities in Bedford has been closed nine days early.
Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who oversee healthcare across the area, were asking residents for their views on plans to close Putnoe Walk-In Centre and replace it with an Urgent Treatment Centre at Bedford Hospital.
But late on Friday afternoon they announced that the consultation was now being closed.
The public meeting which was scheduled for Monday evening is also expected to be cancelled.
Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin branded the announcement a “shambles”.
He said: “This all looks incredibly messy - I’ve been saying all along that Bedford residents won’t accept the closure of their walk-in centre.
“It’s hard to tell if the CCG have only just realised this or if there is something else behind this confusing announcement.
“It really is a shambles.”
Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson agreed.
He said: “What a mess.
“I hope this means that the NHS commissioners have recognised that they’ve got this wrong and must maintain the walk-in service. However, they seem to be making it up as they go along, and they need to clarify what is happening urgently.
“They should still be accepting people’s views on this matter, as they said they would be until August 19.
“Meanwhile, I want to thank everyone who has taken part in the consultation and sent a resounding message that the walk-in service must not close.”
Councillor Louise Jackson, portfolio holder for public health at Bedford Borough Council, was equally bemused and unimpressed.
She told the Times & Citizen: “I have no idea what this means. Do they now intend to finally listen to patients and keep it open? Or are they giving up on Bedford altogether?
“It’s incredible really. It’s hard to have faith in an organisation that doesn’t appear to be able to run even a short consultation, let alone a multi-million pound health commissioning body.”
Alan Streets, accountable officer for the CCG, said: “During the last five weeks, we have been listening to the views of patients and the public about the provision of urgent care in Bedfordshire and the future of Putnoe Walk-In Centre.
“We have had 1,900 responses containing a wide range of views, and it is clear that we need to reconsider our proposals on the future of urgent care in Bedfordshire.
“For this reason, we have decided to close the current consultation phase today.
“We will work with local providers to reach agreement on a temporary walk-in service, pending further work.
“We will consider our next steps and then talk again to the public and stakeholders about how they can help us formulate longer-term plans for urgent care in Bedfordshire.”