A WALK-IN centre for NHS patients in Leeds is set to close this month as part of moves to save cash.
The Department of Health has decided not to renew a contract for the walk-in centre in the Light shopping centre in Leeds which opened five years ago and yesterday it was announced that it will now close at the end of November.
Last night NHS Leeds said the Department of Health did not intend to continue delivering services from commuter walk-in centres and this means the Leeds centre will close. Centres in Manchester, Newcastle and London have already been axed.
It will shutdown on November 30 and is the latest service in West Yorkshire to be hit by cuts. Already opening hours have been cut at other centres in Halifax, Todmorden and Dewsbury.
The surgeries were set up to give patients quick access to GPs.
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 an earlier 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.
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.
Last night Philomena Corrigan, director of delivery and service transformation for NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds, said: “The centre was commissioned by the Department of Health to have a focus on commuters, but only 22 per cent of users in the year October 2009 to September 2010 were categorised as commuters.
“Our Clinical Commissioning Executive (CCE), whose membership includes local GP commissioners, agreed that the most appropriate course of action is to ensure that the needs of patients are met within the rest of the services provided in Leeds.“
To assist this process NHS Leeds conducted a twelve-week consultation; including sending out 30,000 leaflets, to find out where Leeds residents would like to receive appropriate care once the Commuter Walk-in Centre has closed.
Health bosses claim that since the centre opened in 2005 there have been significant improvements to local health services in Leeds include: promoting the West Yorkshire Urgent Care Services telephone service, 0345 605 99 99 that people with an unexpected health problem can call to be assessed quickly and directed to the most appropriate service.
The Shakespeare Medical Practice, a walk-in centre, has also been developed, there have been extended opening hours provided at the city’s two minor injury units - St George’s Centre Minor Injuries Unit, Middleton Leeds and Wharfedale Minor Injuries Unit, Newall Carr Road, Otley and some GP practices in Leeds are providing evening and weekend appointments.
The GP practice in The Light is unaffected by the closure and is welcoming new registrations, as are all other GP practices within the city. People can contact West Yorkshire Central Services Agency on 0113 295 2500 or visit www.nhs.uk if they would like further information about which GP practice you can register with.
Walk-in services were designed for patients with minor ailments to take pressure off A&E and for those with urgent problems who were unable to get a quick appointment with their own practice who could then register with the surgery for future appointments.