The service at the School House surgery in Dewsbury is the third to go after similar projects were shut down in Barnsley and Scunthorpe. About 240 walk-in clinics open seven days a week were launched in a flagship health programme by Labour in 2009 across England to improve access to GP care.
But the popularity of the clinics brought huge extra costs for the NHS and about one in four of the services have now closed. Others have had their opening hours reduced among them services in Halifax, Todmorden and Bradford, while the clinic in Rotherham is expected to move to the town’s A&E unit.
The service in Dewsbury closed yesterday and patients are instead being urged to attend a walk-in centre a mile away next to the accident and emergency department at the town’s hospital. Further services will open at the hospital next year as part of a major reconfiguration of urgent care services in the area.
The chief officer of NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, Chris Dowse, claimed that the walk-in service was seeing fewer and fewer people and more and more had a low level of need.
“What’s more many of those people were already registered with a GP in the same building who were best placed to respond to that need,” she said.
Plans were being laid for a flagship 24/7 primary care service at the hospital which is due to be co-located with the emergency department.
“Until the new service is in place, patients are reminded that for urgent care needs they should contact their own GP, NHS 111 or attend the walk-in centre at Dewsbury and District Hospital if necessary,” Ms Dowse added.
The health service regulator, Monitor, has voiced concerns the closures of walk-in centres across the nation could leave some patients unable to access GP care.