Walk-in service could close in NHS shake-up

The centre on King Street, Wakefield.
The centre on King Street, Wakefield.

An NHS walk-in centre where people can see medics without an appointment could be closed in a shake-up of services.

Health bosses are set to launch a public consultation on urgent and emergency care which includes the future of the King Street centre and A&E services.

The walk-in centre, which is in the same building as a separate GP practice, was opened in 2009 to provide appointments at short notice and for people who were not registered with a doctor.

But Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which controls the NHS budget, has been looking at ways of providing the service at traditional GP surgeries.

Dr Adam Sheppard, the CCG’s assistant clinical chairman, said: “We’re looking at how we make urgent care services, such as those provided at the walk in centre in Wakefield, available to patients across the district through their own GP surgery.

“Originally we thought it could mean the closure of the Wakefield walk-in centre in April 2016, but we have extended this until September 2017 while we carry out a wider review, and ensure that better alternatives can be put in place.”

CCG bosses are also planning changes to speed up care at busy A&E departments, which have been missing targets to see patients within four hours.

Dr Shepherd said: “We’re also looking at the service we provide in our A&E departments across the district to make sure they are safe, resilient, and offer the best possible outcomes for patients.

“This will include 24-7 services at both Pinderfields and Pontefract.”

CCG bosses explained their plans to a meeting of the council’s health overview and scrutiny committee yesterday.

A report to the meeting said CCG bosses expected changes to A&E and urgent care to be implemented in April next year, but this was delayed until October 2017.

Plans included “renaming of the Pontefract emergency department to an urgent care centre.” A public consultation would be carried out in the autumn.

Latest figures show hospitals are struggling to meet targets for patients who arrive at A&E to be seen in four hours.

In April, 88.4 per cent were either admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour time frame at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, against a target of 95 per cent.

Only eight NHS organisation in England met the four-hour target that month.