You did it! Thousands of people signed petitions, campaigned and lobbied their elected representatives and the upshot of it all is that Hastings’ GP walk-in centre has officially been saved.
Seen as a crucial resource for the sick and disadvantaged in our town health bosses had threatened to close the centre and relocate its services it provides to the Conquest Hospital. But more than 5,000 local people signed the Labour party’s paper and online petitions and ultimately persuaded those with the power to change their minds.
Last week at a full meeting of the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) recommendations by Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to retain the walk-in centre facility at Station Plaza were approved. This follows earlier backing by an HOSC Urgent Centre Review Board sub- committee.
Peter Chowney, Labour parliamentary candidate for Hastings said this week: “It’s fantastic that the walk-in service has been saved, and will probably be improved, too.
“There’s little doubt that the campaign we conducted – and the meetings I had with senior health officials about it – have influenced the NHS and HOSC to make the right decision.
“So a big thank you to all those who took part, signed our petitions, and made their views clear. Community campaigning can deliver the right result!”
A 16-month trial of the Walk-in Centre’s role as a ‘primary care hub’ is now expected to begin in December.
The advantage of its new status is that the centre will also provide greater ‘integrated services’ – so people will be directed, where appropriate, to community nursing or the county council’s social care teams and its role in treating people with complex needs has been recognised.
The centre will stay open seven days a week from 8am until 6.30pm, this meets NHS England’s aim of increasing the access to care outside normal GP opening hours. Initially, most patients will be seen by a nurse practitioner.
But primary care in Hastings is still under pressure. Demand for the centre’s services has increased over the last few years, at a time when Hastings is 15 full-time GPs short of the national average, according to Labour’s Mike Turner.
“We’ve got 25,000 patients in Hastings being treated beyond the national average of 1,742 patients per doctor,” he told fellow members of HOSC.
“I’m sure that will continue to be taken into account when you are looking at the services in the walk-in centre.”