Wakefield’s NHS walk-in centre - fears over its future

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The NHS walk-in centre could close next year.

Fears have been raised that the loss the service at King Street Health Centre, in the city centre, could heap too much demand on A&E as more patients turn up at Pinderfields Hospital for treatment.

The walk-in service, which is operated by Local Care Direct, is open from 8am-8pm seven days a week and treats people who are not registered with a GP. People can also see a GP or a nurse without appointments.

Bosses at NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have confirmed that a five-year contract to run the service ends at the end of May.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said Pinderfields could struggle to cope with demand if the walk-in centre closed.

She said: “Walk-in centres like King Street are vital for people not registered with GPs and those seeking after- hours and weekend care.

“The closure of walk-in centres could make the A&E crisis even worse and I will be fighting tooth and nail to protect this valued local service.”

More than 230 UK walk-in centres were opened to provide speedy appointments for people who found it hard to see their GP.

But research by the health regulator Monitor shows 53 closed in the last three years, and warns that closures could leave some patients with nowhere to access services.

CCG bosses said they were seeking an extension to the contract and were carrying out a consultation on the service which ends on December 17.

They were unable to provide figures on the numbers of patients using the walk-in centre.

CCG chairman Dr Phil Earnshaw said: “The review of the walk in centre isn’t about saving money as funding for these services will not change.

“This consultation is to make sure we are meeting our patients’ needs effectively.”

King Street Health centre houses the walk-in service and a separate GP practice.

Local Care Direct declined to comment on the story.