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NHS walk-in centre to close and hours to be cut at another

A WALK-IN centre for NHS patients in Yorkshire is set to close and the hours of another will be cut under moves to save cash.

The Department of Health decided early this year not to renew a contract for the walk-in centre in the Light shopping centre in Leeds which opened five years ago.

Health bosses in Leeds will tomorrow discuss a survey detailing public reaction to the shutdown after reaching agreement no alternative services will be opened following the closure at the end of November.

In a separate move, NHS bosses will today agree to cut the hours at the walk-in centre in Barkerend, Bradford, which was the first to open under a national flagship Labour initiative to improve access to GP services.

The surgery will be the latest in the region to see hours reduced. Already the walk-in service in Barnsley has been closed and opening hours have been cut at other centres in Halifax, Todmorden and Dewsbury.

The walk-in centre in Leeds opened under a national Department of Health programme to improve care to commuters which is being axed to save money. Only a fifth of its users were commuters, with most of the remainder registered with practices in Leeds.

In a report, NHS Leeds said nearly 300 people had responded to an exercise asking for public views on the closure. Most said they would instead go to their own GP in future although many used the walk-in service because they found it difficult getting a convenient appointment.

Officials said the findings would be fed into a review of urgent care services and shared with GPs to help drive service development.

In Bradford, officials are expected to agree to cut the morning opening hours of the Hillside Bridge centre which has seen demand four times that expected, with 23,500 people using it in 2009-10, significantly driving up costs.

The centre was designed for the most deprived people in the area but checks showed few were using it. More than a third of walk-in patients were those at other GP practices, some of whom were seeking a second opinion, leaving the NHS to pay double for the same service.

A public consultation found patients using the service said it was because there were no appointments at their own practice, they needed help outside normal working hours or because it was more convenient, claiming they would instead go to A&E at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

A survey by the Yorkshire Post last year found half the access centres in the region were seeing at least double the number of walk-in patients expected, with the surgery in Bridlington seeing a seven-fold increase.

 

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